Totally, Tenderly, Tragically: Fassbinder (week two)

13 Jun


The Marriage of Maria Braun

By Eleanor Colla

This week at cinematheque two of Fassbinders’ three ‘BRD trilogy’ (Bundesrepublik Deutschland or West German) films will be showing.

The trilogy consists of The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978), Lola (1981), and Veronika Voss (1982); all of which focus on narratives involving women, with Fassbinder drawing strong links with the Classical Hollywood women’s film and melodramas of the 1940s. These women’s lives can also be seen as a metaphor for Germany’s great economic success post WWII and the subsequent financial, social, and national pressures and failures that are now occurring.

The Marriage of Maria Braun is the first of Fassbinder’s BRD trilogy and was his most commercially successful film, both in and out of Germany. Maria (Hannah Schygulla) marries the soldier Herman Braun in 1943. After the war, she is told that he has been killed and thus starts working as a bar hostess and begins various relationships as a way of survival, and later, materialism.

Continuing, and ending, the BRD trilogy is Veronika Voss in which Fassbinder once again pays homage to the cinema of Old with the title character loosely being based on the life of German actress Sybille Schmitz, and the plot on Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard. The film is set in 1955 (and filmed in a striking black and white) and follows the last years of faded Nazi starlet Veronika Voss (Rosel Zech) who begins an affair with a young report. Becoming suspicious of Veronika’s erratic behaviour, the reporter investigates and finds Dr. Katz, a physician supply Veronika with opiates in order to steal away her fortune.

Veronica Voss

Often taken as a commentary on not only Germany but also the German film industry, Veronika Voss signalled the first critical recognition for Fassbinder by the German people with the film winning the Golden Bear at the 32nd Berlin International Film Festival.

Melbourne Cinematheque plays every wednesday at the Australian Cinematheque. Read Last weeks Fassbinder, and all Eleanor’s other Cteq posts here.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: