Post-war Germany through the eyes of a woman who will do anything to survive
- The Marriage of Maria Braun review by Philip in Paradiso
The film starts in Germany: we are in 1943. Maria (Hanna Schygulla, remarkably beautiful and charismatic) marries Hermann Braun, a soldier. After "half a day and a whole night" together, Hermann Braun goes back to the front the next day. Following the end of WWII, Maria is told that Hermann has been killed. Maria is the central character: without Hanna Schygulla, the film wouldn't exist. She is the focus of attention and her sure-footed performance underpins the entire story, which is about her, first and foremost.
The historical context is important, here: Maria needs to survive in the wake of the Nazi regime's collapse, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to feed herself and those closest to her, including her mother. She refuses to lose hope and keeps on believing that Hermann, her husband, will reappear at some stage in the future. The film is interesting on various levels. First of all, the atmosphere in Germany at the time is re-created in a way that seems convincing and compelling. Then, Maria herself is a complex character, a non-conformist who has no scruples, or so it would seem. Finally, the story unfolds in a captivating manner.
This could have been a masterpiece but I feel there is something missing and it is hard to pinpoint what it is. The story is not entirely plausible, more particularly towards the end, in my view. Also, the style of the narrative is surprisingly dated, and not that this is a major issue in itself: the story takes place in the 1940s and 1950s, and it does feel like a 1950s film, or perhaps even a 1930s type of movie (it was released in 1978). Maybe R W Fassbinder did this on purpose. This creates a strange impression, as if there was some kind of distance between us and the story as well as the characters, as if the narrative was stilted, as Maria herself can be. On balance, I would still recommend the film, which is very good.
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.
A grim and cynical film
- The Marriage of Maria Braun review by FM
This may be an excelent film, artisically but I found it grim and unpleasant. There are no likeable characters. Maria herelf is highly manipulative and the men in her life appear to be using her to satisfy themselves. It is set against the background of postwar Germany but, apart from the scenery (bombed out buildings)., this is hardly relevent. I had no urge to watch this a second time.
1 out of 3 members found this review helpful.