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 its past.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what's now showing
"Hurts, does it? In pain, are you? Are they coming up
out of their holes, George? All those helpless little blonde girls with frightened eyes. Are they coming out of the rubble? Are you going to give them fags? ... 'Up with their dresses and down with their knickers.' Time has come for roll-call. You can't say you haven't asked for it, old son. Time to part." - Philip Marlow, Singing Detective, ep 3, 36 min mark.
As Germany tries to build itself up after WWII so does the beautiful and opportunistic Maria Braun. The film begins and ends with an explosion, and in between we follow the tiles and tribulations of this charismatic woman who's willing to do whatever it takes to provide for herself, her husband and family. The brief scenes that take place in the ruins are visually quite amazing. Very, very good.
"It's wrong to give all your love to only one person, Grandpa. If you don't have potatoes, you eat turnips. When the turnips are gone, you eat gruel. But every girl loves her one and only. He goes to war; five months later he's dead, and you mourn the rest of your life. Does that make sense to you, Grandpa? It drowns you. "
F - with his unflinching rejection of that weakness that makes us prone to self-protective oversimplification - writes complicated characters into complicated situations (the analyses of which often reveal as much about the viewer as the film...) And his Maria, neither "indelible monster"* nor some idealistic victim of post-war circumstance, is that: F's challenge to Germans (et al) to confront real-world complexity.
Precise depiction (not so much a criticism) of our narcistic culture that started to grow after WW2 (when the movie takes place) with neoliberalism, mass media (notice the footbal game) and consumerism. I just figured out it's one of the lait motives of the whole german new wave and that's why I looove it so much!