The Marriage of Maria Braun (Die Ehe der Maria Braun)

Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


One of three films Fassbinder made criticizing the political climate of post–World War II Germany, The Marriage of Maria Braun also features one of Hanna Schygulla’s finest performances. Fundamentally it is a film about a woman who rises to a position of power and prominence in society through her own abilities only to be done in by love in the end.

Maria Braun is portrayed in the film both as an individual and a symbol of her time. The postwar period provides women with new opportunities, which Maria is clever and strong enough to take advantage of. When things get back to normal, however, men return to power, and women’s influence largely comes to an end. At this point, Maria expects to submerge herself in her renewed relationship with her husband, only to discover that he has used and deceived her. The Marriage of Maria Braun was one of Fassbinder’s most successful films and established him as a major figure on the international scene. It also has one of his most ambiguous endings. Is the explosion an accident, or does Maria cause it deliberately? Either way it serves as a rich metaphor for the ultimate collapse of Maria’s personal life and the resounding hollowness of the West German Economic Miracle.

— Barbara Bannon

Screening Details

  • Section: Rainer Werner Fassbinder: Modern Renaissance Man
  • Film Type: Dramatic Feature
  • Country: Germany
  • Run Time: 120 min.
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