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Marriage of Maria Braun, The

Director(s): Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Theatrical Release: 1979

Cast: Hanna Schygulla, Klaus Lowitsch, Ivan Desny, Gottfried John

Genre(s): Drama, war, psychological, Criterion Collection

Countries: Germany (East/West)


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Running Time: 120m.

The film that elevated German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder from domestic approbation to international acclaim, The Marriage of Maria Braun stars the director's on-and-off favorite actress Hanna Schygulla in the title role. During the allied siege of Germany in the last year of the war, Maria's new husband (Klaus Lowitsch) is shipped off to the Russian front before the marriage is consummated. As she struggles to survive wartime deprivations, Maria haunts the local train station, seeking out information concerning her husband. When it appears that she's a widow, Maria takes a job as a barmaid and befriends a black soldier (George Byrd) from the occupying allied troops, who sees to it that Maria's family receives vital food and supplies. The opportunistic Maria eventually takes a job with a wealthy importer (Ivan Desny), building herself up to a position of power and indispensability. Though she sleeps with her employer, Maria still carries a torch for her husband. The Marriage of Maria Braun is regarded by some as merely a Teutonic Joan Crawford picture, but the brilliance of director Fassbinder and star Schygulla shines through every frame. — Hal Erickson (allmovie.com)

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Maria (Hanna Schygulla) marries Hermann Braun in the last days of World War II, only to have him disappear in the war. Alone, Maria uses her beauty and ambition to prosper in Germany's “economic miracle” of the 1950’s. Fassbinder’s biggest international box-office success and the first part of his “postwar trilogy,” The Marriage of Maria Braun is a heartbreaking study of a woman picking herself up from the ruins of her own life, as well as a pointed metaphorical attack on a society determined to forget it’s past.

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Criterion Collection #204 DVD Special Features:

+ New high-definition digital transfer, enhanced for widescreen televisions

+ Audio commentary by cinematographer Michael Ballhaus and renowned filmmaker Wim Wenders

+ Exclusive video interview with the star of The Marriage of Maria Braun and regular Fassbinder collaborator, Hanna Schygulla

+ Video interview with Fassbinder scholar Eric Rentschler

+ New and improved English subtitle translation

+ Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition
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