‘The Marriage of Maria Braun’ and New German Cinema
German Cinema has had its ups and downs in the past couple of centuries. Germany was a country that was torn by World War 2. During the 1950’s, just after World War 2 had ended, Germany was still paying its consequences. The social and economic status of the country was poor, the country was divided into West and East Germany and this was a time of major downfall for Germany. This poor economic status took a toll on the film industry in the country. Movies were being produced but the citizens of Germany were too engrossed in correcting their lives both financially and socially and so a very small percent of the population visited cinema halls for entertainment. This consequently led to the downfall of this Industry.
German films before the Second World War lacked story, plot and even distinct characters. However, after the war, things changed. Even though the economic condition of the country was not stable, a group of young, artistic filmmakers namely Alexander Kluge, Edgar Reitz, Peter Schamoni and Franz Josef Spieker came together to form an alliance. Their plan was simply to uplift German Cinema from its old ways and create and present a new, fresh and artistic form of cinema to the audience. They proactively declared "Der alte Film ist tot. Wir glauben an den neuen" which is german for “The old cinema is dead. We believe in new cinema”. They did this officially and issued the Oberhausen Manifesto on February 28, 1962, which stated the same. Soon other upcoming young film makers with similar ideas and beliefs joined this group. Some of them are Volker Schlöndorff, Werner Herzog, Jean-Marie Straub, Wim Wenders, Werner Schroeter and Hans-Jürgen Syberberg and Rainer Werner Fassbinder (director of ‘The marriage of Maria Braun’). This is how the German film Industry began to take a different route. This is how it caught up financially and economically and established a name for itself in Germany and eventually formed a solid mark for German films in the world.
‘The Marriage of Maria Braun’ is one such film belonging to the category of New German Cinema that is well know in the world even today for it’s success not only commercially but also artistically. Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, one of the finest and most creative young directors of the 70’s, ‘The Marriage of Maria Braun’ received innumerable amount of praises both from critics and the audience as the film marked the rise of modern German Industry. The film has many creative aspects to it beginning with the basics like plot, story and character that were not present in previously made German Films. Furthermore, it also has other creative touches like the screenplay is excellent, the acting is up to the mark, the story has twists and a climax and the camera angles and shots were different, the editing is well done. All these qualities were new to the audience and this movie set a high bar for German Films in World cinema and this is probably the reason for its success worldwide.
After viewing the movie, I was intrigued myself. The plot most importantly is excellent. At first, I didn’t think that German movies so long ago would have such a well-defined, intricate story line and I was shocked myself at how attention catching it was. The film is based in Germany in 1943, which depicts the period of the Second World War. The protagonist of the film is “Maria” who marries the love of her life “Herman Braun”, a German soldier, during the time of a bombing raid in the country. The next day itself Herman is forced to return to the front. Post war, Maria hears of a rumor that Herman is dead and thus she is forced to move on. She then has a relationship with an African American soldier- Bill. This is not the end of the story. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, at this point in the plot, has a twist for the audience. Herman is actually alive and walks into Maria and Bill undressing each other. This is when the plot...
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