The Marriage of Maria Braun

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The Marriage of Maria Braun (German title: Die Ehe der Maria Braun) is a 1979 film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. It was nominated for "Best Foreign Film" in the 1980 Golden Globe Awards. The film is the first in Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy, followed by Veronika Voss (BRD 2) and Lola (BRD 3).

Plot

The film opens with a close-up of a picture of Adolf Hitler being blown off of 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 soldier Hermann Braun in a rushed ceremony. Hermann is immediately shipped to the Eastern Front.

When the war ends, Maria and her friend Betti visit the train station where other women go to seek word of their soldier husbands. The film shows the daily privations and black market commodity exchanges that characterized immediate post-war Germany. Betti’s husband returns home with news that Hermann has been killed. The distraught Maria begins to work in a tavern frequented by American soldiers, where she becomes the lover of an African-American soldier. The relationship between the two is tender and loving until Hermann unexpectedly returns home to find Maria and the soldier naked together. The soldier tries to protect Maria from Hermann’s anger, but Maria hits the soldier over the head and kills him.

Hermann takes the blame for the crime and is sentenced to prison. Maria's baby is stillborn. On the way home, she meets the French businessman Karl Oswald, who has plans to make money in the shattered post-war economy. Maria becomes Oswald’s assistant and lover, proving herself to be a model of Germany’s recovery. Meanwhile, she still visits Hermann, who has sanctioned her relationship with Oswald, in jail. This symbolizes the systematic betrayals required of a western half of the country divided between to the two superpowers and simultaneously required to both faithful to its national cultural past while being the capitalist economic powerhouse of the European Common Market.

Eventually, Hermann is released from jail and it seems he will finally commence his marriage to the now-wealthy Maria. The film's final sequence, which plays out in one take and features audio of the 1954 FIFA World Cup soccer game in the background, begins optimistically as Maria and Hermann plan their new life together, yet ends quickly in a gas explosion that presumably kills the couple. The scene is ambiguous as it is unclear whether or not Maria deliberately leaves the gas stove running, leading to the explosion just as the sports announcer is celebrating Germany's decisive World Cup victory and shouting "Deutschland ist wieder 'was!" (Germany is something again). The ending symbolizes the possible conflagration should the FRG West Germany and DDR East Germany ever reunite.

The film ends with a series of film negative portraits of West Germany’s post-war chancellors.

Cast

External links

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