7.9/10
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The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978)

Die Ehe der Maria Braun (original title)
A World War II widow seeks to adjust to life in postwar Germany.

Writers:

Pea Fröhlich (screenplay), Peter Märthesheimer (screenplay) | 4 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 13 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Hanna Schygulla ... Maria Braun
Klaus Löwitsch ... Hermann Braun
Ivan Desny ... Karl Oswald
Gisela Uhlen Gisela Uhlen ... Mother
Elisabeth Trissenaar ... Betti Klenze
Gottfried John ... Willi Klenze
Hark Bohm Hark Bohm ... Senkenberg
George Eagles George Eagles ... Bill (as George Byrd)
Claus Holm ... Doctor
Günter Lamprecht Günter Lamprecht ... Hans Wetzel (as Günther Lamprecht)
Anton Schiersner Anton Schiersner ... Grandpa Berger
Lilo Pempeit Lilo Pempeit ... Frau Ehmke
Sonja Neudorfer Sonja Neudorfer ... Red Cross nurse
Volker Spengler ... Train conductor
Isolde Barth ... Vevi
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Storyline

This movie follows the life of a young German woman, married to a soldier in the waning days of WWII. Fassbinder has tried to show the gritty life after the end of WWII and the turmoil of the people trapped in its wake. Written by Neel V Kumar <neelvk@iname.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Marriage Of Maria Braun. . . the marriage lasted no longer than half a day and a full night.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

West Germany

Language:

German | English | French

Release Date:

23 March 1979 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

The Marriage of Maria Braun See more »

Filming Locations:

Berlin, Germany See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

DEM 1,975,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Fujicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list. See more »

Quotes

Karl Oswald: Do you want to leave me?
Maria Braun: That would be stupid. It would only make us unhappier. At least if you know you're unhappy, there's still hope.
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the introductory credits there is a line: 'fuer Peter Zadek'. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Il était une fois...: Le mariage de Maria Braun (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

In The Mood
Written by Wingy Manone, Andy Razaf and Joe Garland
See more »

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User Reviews

 
torrid melodrama about a woman who can get what she wants, but needs are another matter
21 June 2009 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

Maria Braun got married right in the middle of combat all around her and her husband Hermann. An explosion ripped through the building, to begin with, and she and Hermann had to sign the papers on a pile of rubble on the street. Perhaps this may strike some as a heavy-handed metaphor for what's about to come: marriage on the rocks, so to speak. It's a betrothal where the husband goes off to war and is held in a Russian prison camp, unbenownst to the helpless but hopeful and proud Maria, who keeps standing by the depressing rubble of the train station as some come home, others don't, with a sign awaiting Hermann.

Trouble arises, as happens in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's melodramas, and as its one of his best and most provocative, we see as Maria (uncommonly gorgeous Hanna Schygulla in this role) will do a two-face: she'll stand by her man, even if it means working at a bar for American GI's and, even still after she hears from a fellow soldier that Hermann has died will still stand by him as she sleeps with a black GI and comes close to bearing his child (that is, naturally, until he reappears and a murder occurs and he takes the rap so she can be safe), or working for a German businessman (effectively sympathetic Ivan Desny) and becoming his sometimes mistress and rising star in the company. Maria will do whatever it takes to be successful, but she'll always be married.

It's hard to say there's anything about Maria that isn't fascinating. Money, sex, power, all of these become interchangeable for Maria. She's like the feminist that has her cake and eats it with a sultry smile: she gets to have a husband, more or less (actually a lot less until the last ten minutes of the film) while obtaining things- a man who dotes on her whenever he can, a new and expensive house with servants, a secretary, money- that others around her aren't getting due to already being with a man or too weak in a position to rise anywhere (such as the secretary, played interestingly enough by Fassbinder's own mother).

Maria is sexy, confident, and all alone, with an idealized life going against a life that should be made in the shade. She says of the two men- the American soldier and poor old and sick Oswald- that she's fond of them, and at the same time will stick by those roses the confused and soul-searching husband Hermann sends from Canada, after being released from prison. She's casts a profile that a feminist would love to trounce, but understand where she's coming from and going all the way.

Fassbinder employs this inherent contradiction, and moments with Maria appear to go against the conventions of a melodrama (for example, Hermann walking in on the jubilant and half-naked Maria and GI is just about a masterpiece of a scene, with Maria's reaction not of surprise or guilt but pure happiness to see that he's there let alone alive), while sticking to his guns as a director of such high-minded technique with a storyline that should be predictable. But it isn't really. It's like one big metaphor for a country that, after the war, couldn't really move on to normalcy. A few times Fassbinder puts sound of the radio on in the background, and we see Maria walking around her family house, hustle and bustle going on around her, and the radio speaks of a divided Germany, of things still very unsettled, of a disarray. Maybe the only way to cope is excess, or maybe that's just my interpretation of it.

It's hard to tell, really, under Schygulla's stare face and eyes, anyway. It's such an incredible performance, really, one of those showstoppers that captures the glamor and allure of an old-time Hollywood female star while with the down-and-dirty ethic of a girl of the streets. Most telling are the opposing costumes one sees in one scene when she finally is with her husband, where she stars in one of those super-lustful black lingerie pieces and high heels, and then moves on to a dress without even thinking about it. That's almost the essence of what Maria is, and Schygulla wonderfully gets it down, a headstrong but somehow loving figure who is adored and perplexed by the men around her, sometimes in a single sentence. This is what Fassbinder captures in his wonderful first part of his "trilogy"; while I might overall prefer Veronika Voss as a masterpiece, Maria Braun is perhaps just as good as a character study, of what makes a woman tick and tock with (almost) nothing to lose.


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