Die Ehe der Maria Braun (1979) Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Die Ehe der Maria Braun (The Marriage Of Maria Braun)
directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
1979 / 120 min. / AVI file / 968.5 MB
Criterion DVD rip
In German with English, French and Spanish subtitles included (.srt)

The film opens with a close-up of a picture of Adolf Hitler being blown off a wall during an allied bombing raid on Berlin in the later stages of World War II. Amidst the chaos, protagonist Maria is married to Hermann Braun in a rushed ceremony where she has to run down the official needed to sign their marriage contract. After only "half a day and a whole night" together, Hermann returns to the front.

After the war ends, Maria and her friend Betti visit the train station where other women go to seek word of their soldier husbands, but Betti's husband returns home with news that Hermann has been killed. The film shows the daily privations and black market commodity exchanges that characterized West Germany in this era; it also shows how debased Germany's proud cultural heritage has become. Fassbinder, in a cameo, uses Beethoven's fifth as a signal to a lookout before he offers Maria the collected works of von Kleist, which she refuses because they burn too quickly; she instead takes a black dress and some liquor.

The distraught Maria begins to work in a bar frequented by American soldiers, where she becomes the lover of an African-American soldier whom she calls Mr. Bill; when she meets him, she quips "better black than brown," in a reference to his ethnicity, her name, and possibly the Nazi brown shirts. The relationship between the two is tender and loving until Hermann unexpectedly returns home to find Maria and the soldier naked together. During the ensuing scuffle, Maria hits the soldier over the head with a bottle and kills him. Hermann takes the blame for the crime and is sentenced to prison. Promising her husband that their life together will begin as soon as he is released, Maria focuses on attaining wealth. In the meantime Maria takes a trip to see a Doctor. Although not explicitly shown, it is implied she aborts her child. On the way home, she meets a French businessman named Karl Oswald, who fled Germany during the war but is now returning to rebuild his business in the shattered post-war economy.

Through the good English that Maria "learned in bed," she becomes Oswald’s assistant and lover, and a successful senior manager in his firm, becoming the self-confessed Mata Hari of the Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle). Although she surrounds herself with furs and buys her own home, she grows distant from her family, and threatens her secretary (played by Fassbinder's mother) and her clients for breach of contract. Oswald, who unknown to Maria has a terminal illness, secretly visits Hermann in prison and makes a deal: if, on his release, Hermann stays away from Maria until after Oswald's death, Oswald will leave him his company. When Hermann is released from jail, he fulfils his promise to Oswald and goes to Canada, sending Maria a rose every month. He returns on Oswald's death, shortly before the executor arrives to read the will, and Maria discovers the two men in her life have struck a deal behind her back.

The film's final sequence, which includes radio commentary on the 1954 World Cup soccer final, ends abruptly as Hermann finally returns to Maria's house. But the gas from an unlit stove has filled the house, and when Maria lights a cigarette, the home is engulfed in flames. This occurs just as the sports announcer is celebrating West Germany's World Cup victory and shouting "Deutschland ist wieder was!" (Germany is something again). The film ends with a series of photographic negative portraits of West Germany’s post-war chancellors (excluding Willy Brandt).



Washington said...

No supe de la existencia de esta película hasta que me propuse saber quién fue y qué cosas hizo Fassbinder (¡es que soy muy ignorante!; de igual modo que lo son tantos seres elementales, tan estupendos, magníficos y encumbrados como sospechables de no saber nada... ¡igual que yo!) luego de ver el Asado de Satán. Después que ví esta película me dije: ¡oia!, este tipo sí que se las trae, como sí se las trajo. Lástima no tener a la mano, hoy día, a tipos como él.
Es que el genio no produce sucesores. ¡Ni sucedáneos!

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