(aka "Die Ehe der Maria Braun" )


directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
West Germany 1979


The sublime Hanna Schygulla stars as a plucky frau perennially separated from her husband, first by war, then by prison, and finally by pervasive capitalist malaise. She channels her frustrated romantic energy into the construction of an industrial empire--a plot that mixes love and money in the manner of Mildred Pierce. Though Fassbinder takes a more open attitude toward his characters, letting them exist as fully developed psychological specimens, his deadly irony continues to operate on the level of mise-en-scene, drawing his actors into an unstable world of seductive surfaces and shifting meanings. Fassbinder argues that happiness delayed is happiness denied, tempering the film's emotion with precise analysis.

Excerpted from a review by Dave Kehr from the Chicago Reader



Theatrical Release: Feb. 20, 1979 - West Germany

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DVD Review: Criterion (Disc 1 of the BRD Trilogy box set) - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Donald Brown for the Review!

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Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 2:00:12

1.75:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.84 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes



Audio German - mono 1.0
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.75:1

Edition Details:
• Commentary by Michael Ballhaus and Wim Wenders
• Exclusive video interview with Hanna Schygulla
• Video interview with Fassbinder scholar Eric Rentschler
• New digital transfer with restored image and sound
• New and improved English subtitle translation
• RSDL dual-layer edition
• Disc 1 of the BRD Trilogy box set

DVD Release Date: Sept. 30, 2003

Chapters 30


Comments What would otherwise be a perfect transfer is marred by overmatting to a 1.75:1 ratio. While most films might not be affected by such cropping, this one suffers noticeably, as Michael Ballhaus's meticulous framing becomes claustrophobically tight, especially where the camera is moving, which is frequent. Note the chopped lettering of the top and bottom lines of the credits in the first screen capture.

The cover states the aspect ratio of the film as 1.66:1, and I'm not sure if I've ever seen it even that wide before. While I didn't have a ruler with me, I would estimate the film has been shown between 1.50-1.60:1 on the numerous occasions that I've seen it. (Of course, those could all be wrong and 1.66:1 could in fact be the proper ratio.) This may seem a petty complaint to some, but throughout the viewing of this DVD I couldn't help but think how wrong every scene looked, how such care could be given to the sharpness, contrast, color of the image, only to have it all undermined by such casual disregard for the framing. Perhaps as a photographer I'm oversensitive to these things, but one needn't have any formal training to realize something's amiss.

Criterion provides such a valuable service to film overs, and we hold them in such high esteem, that I fear we overlook their frequent overmatting of classic films. There's simply no excuse for it and they need to be held to a higher standard.

 - Donald Brown


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