Marriage of Maria Braun, The

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

West Germany| 1978. English subtitles. Colour. 119 mins.

Fassbinder’s most famous film, and his greatest popular success, Maria Braun exemplifies the director’s cunning use of conventional melodrama-derived from Hollywood films in general, and those of Douglas Sirk in particular-as a vehicle for critiquing the social and political state of post-war Germany. The sprawling plot concerns a young German woman who marries near the end of the war, only to loose her husband at the Russian front. Reduced to dire poverty, she improves her fortunes by taking up with a black American soldier; but complications ensue when her husband unexpectedly returns. The rags-to-riches tale of the eponymous heroine parallels West Germany’s so-called ‘Economic Miracle’, but it was Hanna Schygulla’s sexually-charged performance that made the film an art-house hit.

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