In Rainer Werner Fassbinder, it shows the life of

In the movie, The Marriage of Maria Braun, by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, it shows the life of a young woman named Maria who is forced to learn to be independent after her newly wedded husband goes missing and then is imprisoned. She has to exert her independence to be able to survive in a world that has been devastated and stricken by poverty after the war ended. This film deals with life in Germany after World War II and how the lives of women changed socially and politically throughout the film. Throughout this movie, many elements are shown to portray the historical representation of World War II and how it affected life in Germany post World War II, two of which are the issues of history and memory and how they shape the characters and depict a country that will never be the same as it was before war. Memory plays a huge role in the memorialization of Germany during and post World War II because the film relates back to memories from the past that motivates Maria to search for a better, more stable life for herself. In The Marriage of Maria Braun, Maria and her friend Betti, visit their old school where they met and reminisce about the good old days before their country was torn apart by a devastating war. The two of them sit on the remains of their school building that has been destroyed by gunfire and bombs, a place that will never resemble the school they went to when they were little, yet they laugh and reminisce the old times like they remember the way it used to be. This representation of memories they had, allows the audience to realize how the war has changed Germany’s landscape, values, and economics forever. Their country will never be the way it was because of the war, just like how Maria will never be the same girl who sat with her childhood friend at that school. In the article War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany, by Robert G. Moeller, he mentions that “the decaying corpse of a German soldier and bombed-out cities were not only the backdrop for the heroic acts of the mother and daughter at the center of the movie, they were also forceful reminders of the devastation of Germany brought on by the Nazis’ War” (Robert G. Moeller, War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany, (Oxford University Press, 1996), 1037). In another Germany movie filmed during this time, a brave mother and daughter must survive after the result of a devastating war. The two were forced to build a new life by themselves, similar to Maria in The Marriage of Maria Braun, in which she had to take matters into her own hands to search for a better life for herself. The mother and daughter also relate to Maria in that their characters represent the memory of Germany’s past that will never be forgotten. After the end of World War II, old cultures clash with new ideals resulting from the decline of the Nazi in Germany which is depicted through the idea of an idealistic middle class marriage. Maria and Hermann get married despite only knowing each for three weeks. However, they are torn apart after an explosion hits the Civil Registry building as they are getting married and Hermann goes missing. After giving up hope for her husband’s return, Maria tries to get back on her feet and finds a new job. There she meets Bill, a black soldier who she starts catching feelings for but refuses to marry because she is emotionally dedicated to her husband. All of a sudden, Hermann returns from camp and Maria kills Bill during a fight between her husband and Bill. Hermann takes the blame and is put behind bars. Maria Braun is loyal to her husband and assures him that she will wait for him. In the meantime, Maria seeks to attain wealth and uses her sexuality freely in order to do so. She makes her own choices about her body and sleeps with her boss because she is dependent on him to achieve her goal of becoming a talented business woman. Maria Braun who has no experience in the business world, rises from the remains of a poverty stricken country and imprisoned husband to be a successful business woman, through the use of her sexuality and desire for an economically stable life. She represents a metaphor for the Economic Miracle in post World War II, Maria’s life mirrors the uprise in the West Germany economy and transition into capitalism that resulted. This decline of morals and values transforms the idea of marriage from staying by the side of one’s significant other to giving away one’s body to move up economically, following World War II. Towards the end of the film, the protagonist Maria Braun, finds out that her boss Karl has made a secret deal with Hermann and given half of her estate to her husband, as payment to leave once he is released, until Karl dies to allow Karl to spend the rest of his life with Maria. As a result, the love between the Brauns seem to fade away. In the finale, Maria accidently leaves the gas stove on while lighting a cigarette which causes an explosion, killing the Brauns in their new home. While finally getting everything they worked for, the Brauns die together without ever having a real marriage together. This is a representation of Germany booming from the economic uprise in post World War II, but having lost the cultural values of middle-class Germany, destroyed in the explosions of war just as the Brauns died in the the explosion. The Marriage of Maria Braun is a movie that looks into the historical world of Maria Braun’s life following the end of World War II, and paints a portrait of this time period of German history that will never be the same nor forgotten. Similar to how Maria’s memories of darker days motivates her towards seeking a more economically stable life, West Germany pushes for economic changes to move away from the past.


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