The Marriage of Maria Braun

1978 | Drama | 120 minutes | German with English subtitles


Germany. World War II.  Maria and Hermann Braun are getting married while the Allies are bombing the church. They survive, but the next  day Hermann is ordered back to the Eastern front. After the war, Maria is informed Hermann will not be returning. He was killed. Devastated, Maria takes a job at a bar that caters to American soldiers. She  has an affair with Bill, a kindly African-American sergeant who supports her and gives her gifts.  One evening, as they were undressing  to make love, Hermann barges into the room. He is very much alive!  The men fight and Maria hits Bill over the head with a bottle and kills him. At the trial, Hermann  takes the blame for the murder and is imprisoned.  On the train home, Maria notices the  wealthy industrialist, Karl Oswald sitting nearby. She flirts with Karl and they hit it off. Maria not only becomes Karl’s mistress but  also successfully inserts herself in Karl’s business.  Oswald visits Hermann and makes him an offer: if Hermann emigrates to Canada after he’s released, he will make him and Maria heirs to his fortune. Maria visits Hermann in prison and tells him she is doing well  and becoming wealthy. They will have a promising life once he’s released. After Karl’s death, the conniving Maria learns that her deviousness with both Karl and Hermann will result in tragedy. 

Yalitza Aparicio (Cleo) / Marina de Tavira (Sofia) / Fernando Grediaga (Antonio)
Why Stream This Film?
 François Truffaut commented that “Fassbinder has broken out of the ivory tower of the cinephiles with this film. An original work of epic and poetic qualities.”
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 92%
  • Berlin International Film Festival: Winner, Best Director (Rainer Werner Fassbinder); Best Actress (Hanna Schygulla)
  • Golden Globe Awards: Nominated, Best Foreign Film
  • London Critics Circle Film Awards: Winner, Best Foreign Language Film
  • New York Film Critics Circle Awards: Nominated, Best Actress (Hanna Schygulla)
  • Selected in The New York Times compilation of Essential 1,000 Films To See
In MARIA BRAUN director/writer Fassbinder created an indelible monster who is perversely fascinating because she knows exactly what she is doing and explains it to her victims while it is being done.
Roger Ebert

MARIA BRAUN is the most accomplished of any Fassbinder film I’ve seen. It’s of that incredible sharpness that cuts through to the bone without giving immediately apparent pain. Very scary though funny.
Vincent Canby

The New York Times

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