Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Marriage of Maria Braun (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1979)

The first film in Fassbinder's BRD trilogy detailing women's lives in post-war Germany, Marriage of Maria Braun is the story of, obviously, Maria Braun, who marries a Hermann in the middle of a bombing (in the stunning first scene, where Maria has to chase down an official and lay down on the ground with him to get him to sign the lisense) and has her husband immediately leave for the front. Maria is left without a husband after only half a day and a night, and supports herself and her mother and grandfather by selling illegal goods and eventually working in a bar frequented by American soldiers. Maria is obsessed with finding Hermann alive, but when she is told by a fellow soldier that he is dead, she starts a relationship with an African-American soldier, Bill, and becomes pregnant by him. Hermann then shows up, and things get even more complicated by there, with Hermann going to jail for Maria, and then eventually leaving for Canada. In the meantime, Maria gets a job with Karl Oswald, a French industrialist, and becomes the epitome of a post-war independant woman. All of this, all the things that Maria does to make her life better, however, is all for Hermann, and when she finds out his secret in the final scene, it has devastating consequences, in one of my favorite endings in a long time.

Hanna Schygulla as Maria is a wonder; one of Fassbinder's regular cast members (I love when directors do that), she portrays Maria as a seemingly strong, very sexy and resourceful, but ultimately lonely and vulnerable woman who does everything in her life for an ideal. The movie takes many twists and turns, but never seems manipulated. Instead, it is real, and these characters are all manifestations of ourselves. Maria's motivations may seem fantastical, but they make perfect sense in this crazy world that has changed so much after World War II. This is my second favorite Fassbinder (after Chinese Roulette), and a revelation of post-war Germany - compare this with Italian neo-realist post-war Italy, and you get two completely different worlds!


RIYL: Pasolini, but more lush and personal

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