Friday, July 4, 2008

The Marriage of Maria Braun

Die Ehe der Maria Braun; drama, Germany, 1979; D: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, S: Hanna Schygulla, Ivan Desny, Klaus Löwitsch, Gisela Uhlen, Elisabeth Trissenaar
Germany at the end of World War II. Grenades fall and destroy buildings while Maria and Hermann are hasting a terrified priest to quickly marry them. Their marriage lasts one night and half a day since Hermann leaves to fight in the Eastern front and disappears. Maria lives in a house with a friend and constantly asks soldiers if they saw their husband. She gets a job in a bar and starts a relationship with Bill, a Black man. When her husband returns, she kills Bill with a bottle. Hermann takes the blame and ends in jail whereas she gets a job as a secretary at the rich Oswald, whom she tries to seduce. Hermann leaves for Canadian territory, Oswald dies and leaves a large part of his inheritance to her. In the new house, gas ignites and kills Hermann and Maria.

Excellent drama "The Marriage of Maria Braun" displayed all skills of director Rainer Werner Fassbinder that avoids the grievous tone and pathetic of the area during and after World War II, proudly presenting the world with "New German Cinema". In the opening shot the photo of Adolf Hitler falls from the wall and the airplanes bomb and destroy the whole city while the main protagonists, Hermann and Maria, seem to be living in their own world, unaware of what's going on, since they just coldly, calmly stand there and are getting married. Then the opening credits show up (while in the background the scene is "frozen") and cover the whole screen with their multiplicity, with which Fassbinder shows almost a Godard-ian sense for playful experimenting with film. The later part of the film doesn't have such stylistic tricks anymore and the story becomes slightly routine, but still keeps it's interesting touch. One of the greatest absurdities of war is that the characters return to their home hungry and exhausted and immediately go to take - not food - but a cigarette in their hands. Fassbinder crafted an impressive film about Germany after the end of the war while Hanna Schygulla is very good in the leading role of Maria, a blurry heroine, which helps alleviate even  some scenes which are empty.


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