Rainer Werner FassbinderWest Germany120 minutes1978ColourGerman English
Bitterly funny and infinitely complex, Fassbinder's most famous film turned Hanna Schygulla into an insolent sexual icon as a woman who builds a business empire in the ruins of postwar Germany.
"A work of genius" (Jay Scott, The Globe and Mail). Bitterly funny and infinitely complex, Fassbinder's most famous film turned Hanna Schygulla into an insolent sexual icon on the order of Marlene Dietrich and won her the Best Actress award at the Berlin Film Festival. An epic, ironic fable about the postwar "economic miracle," The Marriage of Maria Braun traces the inexorable rise of a woman who, through her wiles and brazen persistence, builds a career and then an empire in the ruins of a defeated Germany while waiting for her missing-in-action husband to return. (The influence of two of Fassbinder's favourite American melodramas, Mildred Pierce and The Revolt of Mamie Stover, is gloriously apparent.) In a lovely appreciation in Cahiers du Cinéma, François Truffaut claimed that the film "broke Fassbinder out of the ivory tower of the cinephiles," and compared it to Lang, Sirk, Godard, Visconti (Sandra in particular), and Dreyer (Day of Wrath).