Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Pea Fröhlich, Peter Märthesheimer, and Kurt Raab (dialogue and screenplay), Rainer Werner Fassbinder (director) Die Ehe der Maria Braun (The Marriage of Maria Braun) / 1978, released in the USA in 1979
The first of Fassbinder's so-called BRD Trilogy (the Bundesrepublik Deutschland series that includes Maria Braun, Lola, and Veronika Voss) The Marriage of Maria Braun is clearly one of Fassbinder's most brilliant films, but also, one of his most puzzling.
Karl Oswald: You were different last night.
Maria Braun: Last night I slept with you. Today I'm working for you.
Karl Oswald: Afraid someone will think we're having an affair?
Maria Braun: I don't care what people think. I do care what you think. And you're
not having an affair with me. I'm having an affair with you.
In short, necessary to her very survival, that is not only how Maria succeeds in her course of action. For despite her open sexuality and obvious intelligence, she is still utterly in love with her husband of the past, visiting him in prison regularly each week, and working with a lawyer for his release.
Mother: It's wrong to give all you 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.
What Maria does not know is that Oswald, frustrated by her refusal to marry him—which would certainly mean a release of that control and a rejection of certain deeply held beliefs from the past—has discovered her marriage, and made an agreement with Hermann that, if released from jail, he will travel to Canada, leaving Maria to Oswald for the brief time he has left before his death.
Los Angeles, September 10, 2010