Search - Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy (The Marriage of Maria Braun / Veronika Voss / Lola) - Criterion Collection on DVD


Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy (The Marriage of Maria Braun / Veronika Voss / Lola) - Criterion Collection
Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy - Criterion Collection
The Marriage of Maria Braun / Veronika Voss / Lola
Actor: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Genres: Indie & Art House
R     2003     5hr 39min

Studio: Image Entertainment Release Date: 09/30/2003 Run time: 337 minutes

     
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Movie Details

Actor: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Genres: Indie & Art House
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House
Studio: Criterion
Format: DVD - Black and White,Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 09/30/2003
Original Release Date: 08/04/1982
Theatrical Release Date: 08/04/1982
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 5hr 39min
Screens: Black and White,Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 4
SwapaDVD Credits: 4
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 28
Edition: Box set,Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: German
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A Stunning Trilogy
Mr Peter G George | Ellon, Aberdeenshire United Kingdom | 12/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Fassbinder's BRD trilogy is not a trilogy in the sense of being one continuous story spread over three films. Each film is separate and self-contained with different characters. Moreover all three films have a very different style. The link between the films is that they are all set in the period just after World War II and tell the story of the Federal Republic of Germany (BRD) and its recovery from the wreckage of defeat. Each film has as a central character a woman struggling to live in the new Germany. Fassbinder uses these women's lives to comment upon the history of the forties and fifties and especially to critique Germany's "Economic Miracle." The films however, are not politically heavy handed. Fassbinder may be critical of aspects of post-war German society, but his points arise naturally from the nature of the stories the films tell. He clearly saw that his first task as a filmmaker was to make films with strong stories, which were both intellectually and emotionally involving. He succeeds with the three films in the trilogy. One of the reasons for the success of these narratives is the acting. The performances, especially from the three main actresses, are superb. Furthermore these films show that Fassbinder did not forget that his audience should be able to comprehend his ideas. He avoids being cryptic or obscure.The prints on the Criterion DVDs are very good. The films are presented in their original aspect ratios and look great. This is important especially for Lola with its unusual colour palette and for Veronika Voss with its stark black and white photography. Criterion also does very well in providing good subtitles to these films. Fassbinder often uses multiple layers of dialogue with, for example, characters talking while a radio plays one of Adenauer's speeches in the background. The difficult task of subtitling such scenes is carried out well. This box set contains a huge amount of extras. Each film has a commentary and in addition there are over five hours of documentaries and interviews with the people involved in making the films. There is finally a fifty-page booklet about the trilogy. These DVDs are a great introduction to the work of Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The films are enjoyable and thought provoking and essential for anyone interested in post-war German culture."
No real euphoria...
nakedinthesnow | NYC | 09/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"God bless Criterion for finally releasing Rainer Werner Fassbinder's most popular films on disc. The great underappreciated little madman of the New German Cinema and certainly the most ignored genius in film history, Fassbinder's trilogy of films are set in the fifties of the Federal Republic, where the beautifully detailed characters are tortured by post-war burns on society. In The Marriage of Maria Braun, the title heroine loses her husband to war after spending half a day and one night with him, only to have him return and demand from her the weight of obligation. In Lola, an idealist reconstructionist falls in love with a brothel singer and sacrifices his innocence to his obsession. And Veronika Voss tells the story of a former actress whose involvement in a murder plot leads to her undoing. Featuring outstanding work by actors such as Hanna Schygulla and Armin Mueller-Stahl, gorgeously photographed by Michael Ballhaus and Xaver Schwarzenberger, the BRD Trilogy is an outstanding follow-up to Criterion's recently released Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (my personal favorite Fassbinder - pick it up if you haven't already). Fassbinder's agonized desire for art through life led to an independent revolution of absolute brilliance. Fourteen years, forty-four films and not one of them bad: the proof is right here in this amazing trio of brutally dark and romantic cinema."
A Snapshot Of A Time
Beth Fox | Los Angeles, CA USA | 02/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As another reviewer has noted, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's so-called "BRD Trilogy" cannot be compared to other movie trilogies, which take the same characters and show them over different periods of time. Instead, it is a snapshot of the Bundesrepublik as it existed in the 1940s and 1950s, as seen through the stories of three different women.

"The Marriage of Maria Braun" starts immediately after WWII, and lasts through the creation of the Bundeswehr in 1954. We are introduced to a woman who is hardened by the war and its aftermath (or maybe, her innate strength enabled her to survive.) Maria Braun is tough, shrewd and manipulative -- and gets more so as the years pass. By and large, the story of this climber is engrossing and realistic. (One minor flaw -- no American will believe that the "American officer" running the ramshackle court in Maria's trial, early in the movie, is actually American. He sounds like a German affecting an American accent. Poor casting choice!) We do not find out until the end of the movie (and possibly not even then) whether and how the marriage of Maria Braun endured, or whether Maria changed so much as to make the marriage impossible.

"Veronika Voss" was the last to be filmed, but falls second in the trilogy in terms of time. Filmed entirely in black and white, it looks like a late-1940s film noir, and has the feel of a thriller. When the film opens (ca. 1956), Veronika is a washed-up actress from the Third Reich years, now addicted to morphine. Like Maria Braun, she too knows how to manipulate men, in this case, for money to buy drugs. As the film goes on, the mystery unfolds. Veronika is living in her dreams of the past, and two Holocaust survivors are attempting to flee from their own memories. This film, while not as widely acclaimed as "Maria Braun," is my personal favorite.

The third movie (actually made second) is "Lola," filmed in sharp, almost candy-colored tones. Like Maria Braun (but unlike Veronika Voss), Lola is a tough, strong, climber who moves up from prostitution to become the wife of a building inspector. The theme here is that under the faux "moral" patina of the town lies seething immorality and corruption.

Criterion gives you all this, plus a bonus disk with a documentary and an interview with Fassbinder, plus commentary on every one of the films. This is a great deal, and a fascinating look at the BRD in the 1950s -- a country running from, hiding, re-creating, and ultimately coming to terms with its past while building its future."
Fassbinder's remarkable women: the BRD Trilogy.
G. Merritt | Boulder, CO | 11/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Rainer Werner Fassbinder was a genius. In his BRD (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) Trilogy, his objective was to chronicle the history of postwar Germany in a series of films told through the eyes of three truly memorable women. Fassbinder's The Marriage of Maria Braun, Veronika Voss, and Lola earned him the worldwide acclaim he deserved for his artistic genius in film.

1. The Marriage of Maria Braun (BRD 1) (1979).
The Marriage of Maria Braun (Die Ehe der Maria Braun) is the first in Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy. It is perhaps his best-known film, arguably Fassbinder's greatest masterpiece, and one of the finest movies ever made. Fassbinder made the film near the end of his dazzling career. It opens with a close-up camera shot of Hitler's picture being blown off of a wall during the Allied bombing of Berlin in the last days of World War II. In the ensuing chaos and falling bombs, Maria (Hanna Schygull, who starred in 20 Fassbinder films) marries Hermann Braun (Klaus Löwitsch) in a rushed wedding ceremony. The couple spend only a "half a day and a whole night" together before Hermann returns to the war. After she is later told that Hermann has been killed, Maria begins working in a bar patrronized by American soldiers, where she becomes the lover of a black soldier she calls "Mr. Bill" (George Byrd). When Hermann unexpectedly returns home, he finds Maria and the soldier naked in bed. Maria hits the soldier over the head with a bottle, killing him. Hermann takes the blame for the crime and is sentenced to prison. Maria then meets a French businessman, Karl Oswald (Ivan Desny), and becomes his lover. Unbeknownst to Maria, Oswald visits Hermann in prison and promises to leave him his company upon his death if Hermann agrees to stay away from Maria upon his release from prison. What happens to Maria and her husband in the final scene continues to be the subject of endless discussion. The Marriage of Maria Braun is a remarkable portrait of an ambitious woman who uses her sexuality as a means of achieving success. Hanna Schygulla's performance as Maria is radiant.

There should have been another Maria Braun in Fassbinder's career, but he died three years after making this film, alone in a room, naked on a mattress, watching "20,000 Years in Sing Sing" on television, consuming alcohol and cocaine.

2. Veronika Voss (BRD 2) (1982).
This was Fassbinder's next-to-last film before ending his life. (He died June 10, 1982 in Munich of a fatal overdose of drugs and alcohol.) Filmed in black and white, Veronika Voss (Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss, which means The Longing of Veronika Voss) is the second in Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy. Set in 1955 Munich, and loosely based on the career of actress Sybille Schmitz, the film tells the story of beautiful Veronika Voss (Rosel Zech), a once-popular, 1940s UFA film star (think of Marlene Dietrich) who is now a morphine addict struggling to get work. Though she dreams of returning to stardom, her life is a nightmare. She begins a love affair with a sports reporter named Robert Krohn (Hilmar Thate). He discovers that she is enslaved to a corrupt svengali-like neurologist named Dr. Marianne Katz (Annemarie Düringer). Katz is a sadist who keeps Veronika addicted to opiates. Krohn attempts to expose Dr. Katz by sending her a patient (Cornelia Froboess) pretending to be rich and in need of psychiatric care. Katz kills that woman. The film ends on a bleak, cheerless note. Ironically, Veronika's final act in the film becomes the director's final act in life.

3. Lola (BRD 3) (1981).
Maria Braun is about the ascent to success. Veronika Voss is about the descent into drugs and suicide. Fassbinder's last film, Lola, returns to the ascent to success storyline. Shot in vibrant colors, Lola is the third in his BRD Trilogy. Set in 1955 post-World War II West Germany, the film tells the story of a beautiful and seductive seductive cabaret singer-prostitute woman named Lola (Barbara Sukowa), who like Maria Braun, finds prosperity through her sexual gifts. Shuckert (Mario Adorf), a corrupt, local construction businessman is one of her many clients. By contrast, Von Bohm (Armin Mueller-Stahl), a new building commissioner with traditional "family values" falls in love with Lola, hoping to marry her, unaware that she is a prostitute. Shukert and Lola have a young daughter Marie, whom Shuckert supports, but refuses to recognize as his child. Because Lola is ambitious to become part of the respectable upper-middle-class, wanting only money, property, and love, she schemes to seduce Von Bohm into marrying her so that she and Marie can live happily ever after.

The Criterion edition of the BRD Trilogy is rich in extras, featuring new high-definition digital transfers of all three films; "I Don't Just Want You to Love Me," a feature-length documentary of Fassbinder's life and career; "Life Stories: A conversation with R.W. Fassbinder," a rare 45-minute interview with the director; a video interview with Fassbinder cinematographer Xaver Schwarzenberger; a video conversation between Fassbinder scholar Laurence Kardish and editor Juliane Lorenz; audio commentary on The Marriage of Maria Braun by cinematographer Michael Ballhaus and filmmaker Wim Wenders; a video interview with the star of The Marriage of Maria Braun and regular Fassbinder collaborator, Hanna Schygulla; a video interview with Fassbinder scholar Eric Rentschler on The Marriage of Maria Braun; audio commentary on Veronika Voss by Fassbinder scholar Tony Rayns; a new video conversation with Veronika Voss star Rosel Zech and editor Juliane Lorenz; "Dance with Death" (Tanz mit dem Tod), a one-hour portrait of UFA Studios star Sybille Schmitz, Fassbinder's inspiration for the character Veronika Voss; audio commentary on Lola by Fassbinder documentarian, biographer, and friend Christian Braad Thomsen; a new video interview with Lola star Barbara Sukowa; a new video interview with Fassbinder co-screenwriter Peter Märthesheimer; and new and improved English subtitle translations for all three films.

A highly-recommended Rainer Werner Fassbinder film experience. The BRD Trilogy and the 16-hour film Berlin Alexanderplatz are quintessential Fassbinder.

G. Merritt"