The Marriage of Maria Braun. Veronika Voss. Lola
Fassbinder's use of Brechtian aesthetics

by H-B. Moeller

from Jump Cut, no. 35, April 1990, pp. 102-107
copyright Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 1990, 2006

Brechtianism has for many years played a major role in New German Cinema. This filmmaking has emphasized history, values and culture, employing Brechtian aesthetics to critique German society.

On the level of Brechtian politics, the individual postBrechtian filmmaker may either approach Brecht, as with Alexander Kluge, or keep at a distance from him, as with Hans-Jurgen Syberberg. In his trilogy about Germany, the late Ranier Werner Fassbinder remained close to the Brechtian model. However, critical reviews have largely tended to ignore the trilogy's literary and Brechtian aspects; AngloAmerican critics in particular saw Andy Warhol and Douglas Sirk in Fassbinder. However, the literary and Brechtian aspects indicate the New German Cinema's origins as well as its technological or "mediological," i.e. media-theoretical, directions. In particular, Fassbinder's trilogy invites a reexamination so as to illuminate the Brechtian attack which Fassbinder waged against the West German success story.

THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN (1978), LOLA (1981), and VERONICA VOSS (1982) comprise Fassbinder's trilogy. As a group, these films show nothing of Warhol's aestheticism and little of Sirk's melodrama. At best the melodramatic formula serves as a cited genre convention that is, at the same time, distanced, undermined, and subverted by economic and feminist reasoning to lay bare its bourgeois ideology. Fassbinder concentrates on West German history and on characters who represent the "strangely black and debris-covered fifties" (Günter Grass).

In THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN Maria refused to abandon her love for her MIA German husband, Hermann, in the post-WWII years, although a close friend personally confirms his death. War-bride Maria ekes out a living for herself and her mother, accepting a job as a "hostess" at a GI nightclub. The MIA does eventually return — at a most inappropriate time when Maria and Bill, her black GI lover, are about to make love. Maria wants to end the two rivals' duel in the bedroom and accidentally kills the U.S. soldier. Her husband assumes blame for the murder and goes to prison.

Again waiting for her absent Hermann, Maria rides the crest of the West German economic miracle into the roles of homeowner and textile executive. Upon Hermann's release from prison in the early fifties, he disappears, only to resurface after the death of Maria's boss and lover, the industrialist Oswald. Hermann and Maria now offer each other their fortunes, his being half of the textile industrialist's estate (Oswald had willed it to Hermann on condition he would go abroad after prison.) Maria and Hermann both perish suddenly in an accident with their gas stove.

The politics of personal relations as they are shown during the resurgence of postwar German capitalism is the theme of VERONIKA VOSS, the centerpiece of Fassbinder's German trilogy. The "medical-municipal complex" frustrates the investigations of reporter Robert Krohn, who strives to expose a Dr. Katz's illegal dealings in narcotics in order to save the life of actress Veronika Voss, whom he loves. This heroine, a former German film industry star, has become dependent on her physician's drug supply. Katz's clinic is a front for a crime operation; in return for drugs, Dr. Katz blackmails her patients, forcing them to will their assets to her. The city narcotics official, Dr. Edel, working closely with the corrupt physician, derails the reporter's investigation. Krohn fails to prove Katz's guilt in the death of Krohn's girlfriend/assistant, Henriette, and of Veronika Voss. Fassbinder again symbolically analyzes exploitation and corruption in Western society in general and in West Germany in particular.

LOLA is the final critical cinematic commentary on West German life and its social and economic organization. The capitalist restoration of 1957 affects Lola, the chief attraction in a provincial "night club." Her married friend, developer Schuckert, profiteers from the economic miracle which allows him to be with Lola. However, building commissioner von Bohm not only wants to stop local graft, he also wants Lola, falling in love with her before comprehending her role in the "Villa Fink" establishment. Von Bohm's love corrupts him. He gets Lola; she gets a privileged position in society as well as Schuckert's night club/brothel as a wedding present; and the developer continues to extract an advantage from the municipal building boom.

Structurally, MARIA BRAUN, VERONIKA VOSS, and LOLA form "frame films," i.e. parables of historical German society in which the director sets the story of individual characters. The films exemplify the later Fassbinder's penchant for narrating German history through the lives of women such as Maria, Veronika, and Lola. Stills of German Chancellors form frames around both LOLA and THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN. Maria pursues her life and career under real political leaders from Hitler to Schmidt; Lola pursues hers under Adenauer.

In MARIA BRAUN and VERONIKA VOSS, the story of an individual woman melds, with her death, into the history of contemporary 1950s German society. In both films, soccer, the Central European popular sport and a significant Fassbinder metaphor that I will explore shortly, marks the points of transition. In the Brauns' gas-shattered home, a live broadcast of the 1954 world soccer championship blares forth. Turning away from the medical practice where Veronika Voss dies from drug abuse, journalist Robert Krohn, her would-be protector, goes to attend a football game.

Like MARIA BRAUN, VERONIKA VOSS begins indirectly during the Third Reich as the film actress looks at herself in an UFA motion picture she made at the time of her affair with Goebbels, the German film studio's Nazi head. In that film-within-a-film, she met her death in a manner foreshadowing her end at the conclusion of the Fassbinder trilogy. The wheel or frame structure comes full circle. In all three films the sound track, often in the form of a radio broadcast, serves as a negative commentary on the West German Government.

All three films draw upon the interpenetration of history, cinema, and literature. Each seizes on the concrete historical reality of the Adenauer period. All "quote" from contemporary motion pictures.[1][open notes in new window] They relate to printed text, however varied the "adaptation." LOLA is freely modeled on Heinrich Mann's Professor Unrat, the literary model for Stemberg's THE BLUE ANGEL. Likewise, VERONIKA VOSS follows the biography of the German actress Sybille Schmitz. My detailed discussion of the literary connections to MARIA BRAUN will follow.

Through reference to texts and contexts outside the trilogy's films, Fassbinder promotes our constant awareness of artifice, and thus his films approach Brechtian aesthetics. Demonstrative, distancing, and non-illusionist presentational style stamps the entire trilogy, and that style alternates with and manipulates a Sirk-style melodramatic structure.

Brechtian "separation of elements," for instance, clearly shapes the static deployment of the Chancellors' still photos. In both MARIA BRAUN and LOLA, such distancing visuals become further isolated by the absence of accompanying sound. Beyond that one finds the "exhibitionism" of the Brechtian performance which draws attention to itself as performance. In the opening shot of MARIA BRAUN the spectator witnesses the wedding ceremony; as on a movie set, the wall toward the viewer is conspicuously missing.

To force attention to his technique, Fassbinder appears in cameo. In MARIA BRAUN he surfaces as the black marketeer who sells the title figure a dress. In VERONIKA VOSS, the heroine initially reviews her screen role as the drug victim of an exploitative woman physician (the Brechtian-sty1e "preview," in a sense). While the camera retreats, Fassbinder appears seated directly behind, viewing Veronika as she views herself on screen.

Not only has the filmmaker asserted himself, he also has used one of Brecht's presentation techniques which induces the viewers to see themselves as part of the larger process of cinematic production and consumption. In the trilogy, then, Fassbinder alludes to history and to existing works and conventions to depict the Adenauer Era. Money conquers morals and business prevails over love. While this is not an uncommon theme in German literature, cabaret, and cinema, Fassbinder presents it in Brechtian terms.

To examine the Brechtian aesthetics in detail,I shall turn to an exemplary analysis of THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN. Despite the difference between print media and cinema, this film, by using leitmotifs and multiple interpretations, closely resembles a book. It is also a literary film. In spite of Sirk-style melodramatic plot and modest bow to Hollywood's entertainment aesthetics, Fassbinder's MARIA BRAUN owes its debt to Brecht's demonstrative presentation mode.

The film resembles literary works in ambitiously sketching a "reading model" of post-war culture in the Federal Republic. Maria Braun's feelings and marriage perish in the German economic miracle; her experience thus becomes a parable of West Germany. Finally, Gerhard Zwerenz wrote the "after-the-film-story" of THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN during the film's production.[2] This simultaneous novelization demonstrates the new interaction between literature and film. Because the film's cultural and commercial status, Brechtian perceptual structures, and hybrid relation between cinema and literature, Fassbinder's film deserves an in-depth study.

The Brauns' marriage is split by time and space. This allows the director to make a cultural, historic, socioeconomic and quasi-feminist criticism that resembles Brecht's motifs and fundamental stance:

  1. Bourgeois morals and ideals are subjected to criticism.
  2. The female lead appears as a strong, dominant character.
  3. Maria Braun, like Brecht's Mother Courage, attempts to survive purely as an individual, without recourse to collective or social change.
  4. Maria Braun, again like Brecht's Mother Courage, learns little so that the viewer might learn much.
  5. As with Brecht, the main figures suggest that it is difficult to be good in the capitalist world.
  6. The film's social critique is based on an economic rationale.
  7. Characters and events in the film give the impression of being historic and representative.
  8. The worldview of this genre avoids tragedy and creates a stance toward the action with comic overtones and distance. In short, for all the emotions and entertainment value, the work is basically didactic.

Clearly, Fassbinder — like Brecht — critically examines the middle-class ideal of marriage. Looking at the title, we see that the Brauns' marriage is not a union of two people often together; according to Maria it lasts half a day and an entire night. However, to say that the marriage was unimportant would be wrong. Because of her marriage, Maria wasted years during and after the war; and out of conjugal loyalty, Hermann Braun assumed responsibility for a murder committed by Maria and served her prison term. In addition, while Maria waits for Hermann's release she works her way up to a managerial position. Then she waits a few more years while Hermann is overseas. The ideal rather than the reality of a middle-class marriage keeps them together. Both partners retain their ideals until material desires emerge, and both secure half of the textile industrialist's will.

As in many of Brecht's works, the main emphasis in Fassbinder's film lies — witness the title THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN — with the strong heroine. Actually Hermann Braun, as absent soldier, prisoner, and emigrant, exists for us only vicariously through Maria. Maria Braun programs herself into an emancipated, successful woman.

Can this motion picture, beyond the Brechtian purview, be considered in line with contemporary critical women's film — even forgetting for the moment the past feminist contention that Fassbinder as a male was unable to create feminist cinema? The woman protagonists of the West German feminist film from Helke Sander's photographer Edda of REDUPERS (1977), via Margarethe von Trotta's title figure of THE SECOND AWAKENING OF CHRISTA KLAGES (1977) to Ulrike Ottinger's MADAME X (1977) tend to set models of emancipated, activist, and prevailing women.

By the end of the film, is Maria, who no doubt is viewed as a contemporary figure, an independent heroine or a victim? She succumbs to strategies of male suppression, failing in a masculine world where she is: (1) persuaded to embrace society's male values in order to rise in the patriarchal hierarchy, (2) manipulated by Oswald and Braun, who reached a financial agreement behind her back keeping Hermann Braun overseas during Oswald's short lease on life, (3) noisily surrounded by the raging German victory celebration at the Bern world soccer championship, the European male sport, (4) under the patriarchal eyes of statesmen Adenauer, Erhard, Kiesinger and Schmidt, whose portraits close the film. Thus, the post-war ascent Maria Braun shares with Germany encroaches upon feminist components. Although one cannot see this really as a feminist film, its larger socio-cultural context includes critical women's views. Maria Braun the social climber is also a victim of economic advancement.

Fassbinder raises a Brechtian-style question of how a person can maintain human dignity and ethics under capitalism. The film reminds viewers that German society remains indebted to women who were productive during the early post-war period and later shoved into the background. The film also suggests that women, because of their bourgeois value system, have traditionally acted in pursuit of private happiness, instead of serving public consciousness and socio-political reforms. The film also takes up as a major theme, patterns of dominance or power conflicts between partners in a relationship.

Well before MARIA BRAUN, the filmmaker criticized bourgeois sexual morals in THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA KANT and FOX AND HIS FRIENDS. To be sure, the power struggle in THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN preoccupies mainly the chief characters; it scarcely matters in other sexual references and partner relations. Rather, the latter serve Fassbinder to sketch several variations of adult relationships. The couples Betti and Willi, Maria's mother and Hans Wetzel, and barmaids with U.S. soldiers offer alternatives to the relation between Maria and Hermann Braun.

Various concepts of love become formulated in the dialogue. Maria Braun early intones the romantic song of love. The disillusioned barmaid considers her partner merely a bodily presence; for her, feelings are simple outward mani­festations of libido. Maria's practical mother asks why in wartimes she satisfies herself with substitute foods but does not allow more than one partner in matters of love. In contrast, Betti and Maria divert themselves from longing with the hit song, "Nur nicht aus Liebe weinen, es gibt auf Erden nicht nur den einen," or "Don't Cry for Love. There is More than One Man on Earth." Initially grieving over their husbands held prisoner of war in the postwar period, they later mourn Betti's alienation from Willi and Hermann's imprisonment. Individualistic stances of bourgeois morality are opposed by contrary impulses and models.

The difficulties of Maria Braun's love and marriage are implied in these epic-theater demonstrative portraits of varieties of romantic and partner relations. Seeing Betti and Willi's failing marriage, Maria and Willi discuss the tensions which the new climate of the German economic miracle has brought. What will become of a marriage when one partner remains behind and the other, full of initiative, advances?

Maria's defeat in marriage does not solely result from dividing her love for Hermann and her sexual activity with Oswald into separate personality functions. She, unlike Willi, never clarifies for herself the consequences of business advancement. At most, she talks fleetingly with Hermann about the relation in which the woman works for the man (Männergefüss). She fails to consider socio-psychological consequences. Has she considered whether her aggressive business per­sonality is still compatible with the unassuming Hermann Braun? She merely rises.

Through recurring and mirroring figures that vary and fuse relations, Fassbinder produces ambiguous dialectical statements of literary or Brechtian quality. Thematic, visual and audio leitmotifs help sketch a subliminal, dangerous curve opposing Maria's professional success and foreshad­owing a catastrophic ending. Like cigarettes and the shadow pattern of bars, detonations figure as prominent leitmotifs, indicating that a threat progressively comes closer to Maria.

An example of this are the detonations we hear immediately after the war. Maria and Betti, still adorned with sandwich-board signs, hear them while passing a bombed-out building. In the last quarter of the film, the detonations again resound as Maria and Betti clamber through the ruins; the association is also visually reinforced. Reconstruction and the economic progress of the fifties are linked to Maria, the typical figure. This main leitmotif also sounds at Maria's workplace during the textile industry boom. It also rings out as attorney Dr. Klaus announces Hermann Braun's release in a week. It begins again as accountant Senkenberg and secretary Ehmke mourn the industrialist Oswald's death in the presence of Maria. Maria's public sphere and private menace are literally synchronized.

Fassbinder, like Brecht, makes the heroine into a type. Maria's personal fate is clearly linked by this audio leitmotif of detonations to the historical situation of West German society when one realizes that the series of sounds increasingly corresponds to the bombing raid at the beginning of the film. Fassbinder reinforces the symbolic congruence of the sounds by augment­ing the jack-hammer noises oft he first reconstruction scene with the sounds of explosions. As a truck approaches the wooden fence, its motor backfires. Two boys set off virtual explosions by setting off hard grenade fuses in a bomb crater. At the end when Maria is killed in a gas explosion, her private menace, society's reconstruction, and socio-industrial advance, including Maria's career, become entangled.

Fassbinder employs war sounds of the Third Reich as an acoustic backdrop to postwar reconstruction in the Federal Republic of Germany. On this poetic level of information, Fassbinder's linking of leitmotifs raises Maria into a type — she is no longer merely an individual in German wartime and postwar period. Just as Maria's advance includes her fall, in a deeper sense West German reconstruction is seen to be entwined with failure. There is a tension between what is said on the sound track and what is perceived through the visuals. In this sense, visual and especially acoustic leitmotifs are offered to the viewer not only for entertainment, but as part of the epic theater-demonstrative didacticism of the film.

One question has occupied critics everywhere: Did Maria intentionally cause the gas to explode or not?[3] Peter Märthesheimer, of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk, and outstanding co-producer of New Wave German films, contributed to the screenplay of MARIA BRAUN. He created a version of Maria, who, upon learning of the secret agreement between Hermann Braun and Oswald tells herself: "I'm going end it all…"[4] According to Marthesheimer's version of the screenplay, Maria decides to die and "causes a realistic car accident" (9).

The filmmaker, on the contrary, fashions an ending more open, public, and ambiguous. The director allows the viewer room to question whether Maria Braun aborted her child from Bill or lost it through miscarriage.[5] One can say, however, that the filmmaker rejects a notion of a private, purely personal decision to die as the basic explanation for the ending. Maria should be read as an historical figure with Germany as background. This is confirmed by an observation Fassbinder made in an interview in 1980. Asked about the connection between the feminine figures in his films and history, the director maintained,

"It works better, when relating something about history, to use women. Men have..a prescribed role in the writing of history ...that is why I don't find men so interesting as figures..; while women..taken singularly are often capable..of doing things one would not have considered possible" (Limmer, p. 82).

Because of the film's open Brechtian structures, one cannot explain the ending by personalizing it in terms of Maria Braun's possible suicide. These open structures must be examined more closely. The aesthetics, epic portrayal, and dialectic method of perception of the later Brecht make types out of real historical figures in order to derive more meaning from their actions than from their character. In their fascination with Fassbinder's reverence for exiled director Douglas Sirk and his Hollywood work, film scholars tend to overlook or underestimate the Brechtian elements in Fassbinder's work,regardless of whether these elements originate from Brecht of from cinematic borrowers Jean-Marie Straub and Danielle Huillet or Jean-Luc Godard.

Indeed, Brechtian forms and distancing effects can be found in many individual scenes in the film. These often contribute to certain passages' multi-interpretability, where economic and metaphysical "reading models" coexist. For example, in the first quarter of the film, Maria meets a black-marketeer, from whom she purchases clothes and schnaps. As the camera swings from Maria's head to her hand, in which she holds her jewels, Maria explains why she needs the schnaps.

"Schnaps? For my mother. That's how she stands her troubles with her daughter. And numbs the grief of her soul."

One recognizes the stylized business transaction, racketeering, depicted in the style of elevated drama with quasi-metric speech. The camera doesn't just uncover what is truly important, the jewels, but it destroys the theatrical illusion for those familiar with contemporary cultural life in West Germany. For the actor playing the black marketeer role is Fassbinder, the filmmaker himself.

In addition, nearly interrupting the flow of action at the end of the film, Maria haltingly considers whether she should light the cigarette — yet this is what the catastrophe depends on. Actress Hanna Schygulla uses Brechtian aesthetics and the epic acting style, which is a nonpsychological presentation.

Fassbinder uses Chancellors' portraits, which contribute to a non-psychological analysis. The historic documents function as mute commentary. On the one hand, they lift the individual case into historic moment, i.e., Maria Braun's destruction during the rise of West Germany. On the other hand, the genre changes from fiction and a film about an individual to de facto public statement. With this historical imagery, the filmmaker creates an additional level of reality, which differs from the established, natural reality. The Chancellors' portraits, displayed as black and white negatives, are harsher than the portraits presented in color. The advantage of this device is clear. When the viewer of the film leaves the cinema, s/he thinks not only of Maria Braun and her melodramatic accident but questions the country and those who rule it.

Brechtian alienation devices and associations through leitmotifs lead the viewer to the epic-demonstrative superstructure of the parable. THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN is identified as an historical parable, through its historical framework, i.e., the chancellors' portraits at the end and Hitler's portrait at the beginning. The spirited failure of Germany's ascent, elements continuing from predemocratic Germany, and political restoration are all illustrated by Fassbinder through Maria Braun. Her exemplary aspect can be seen whenever she applies her feelings; it is almost as though they were split from her professional intellect. According to the law of the parable, the same split applies to the Federal Republic of Germany and its reconstruction.

Why, during the reunion of Maria and Hermann Braun, is the soccer game broadcast at such a high volume, so that one follows the characters' dialogue only with great difficulty? Why does the sportscast blare as Oswald's will is made public? We need to keep in mind here that this is not just any sports broadcast, but the last round of the World Soccer Cup played by the Federal Republic of Germany and Hungary on July 4th, 1954. Sociologist Hans-Joachim Winkler, in his 1972 Sport und politische Bildung, or "Sports and Political Education," states,

"Via the victory in the soccer World Championship of 1954, spectator sports...did more for the development of an PRG national sentiment than the economic miracle" (103).

Using the World Cup report to achieve a distancing effect, Fassbinder closely approaches Brechtian aesthetics and Brechtian politics as well. We have to remember here that German sports, politicized by the Nazis, was boycotted internationally after the surrender of 1945. Not until 1950 could the Federal Republic of Germany send its soccer team to an international meet. And no German had been able to win a medal there. The 1952 Olympic games in Helsinki were the first major sports event to which the German team was admitted after World War II. The Germans, not accustomed td participating in, much less to winning, prominent sports events, celebrated the World Cup victory in 1954 with nationalistic demonstrations.

In fact the German magazine, Der Spiegel, reported that in the stadium of Bern, Switzerland "thousands of German fans began to sing the 'Deutschlandlied,' the German national hymn, after the final whistle—the first stanza: Deutschland, Deutschland über alles...von der Maas bis an die Memel, von der Etsch bis an den Belt" (21/1974, p. 113) — the very stanza forbidden by the allies as a testimony of German imperialism. The news magazine further reported,

"During the victory party with he championship team Dr. Peco Bauwens, president of the DFB-German Soccer Association, conjured the old Germanic god of thunder, with a 'wild swell of Teutonic phrases.' He also condemned the envy of the romance (welsch) peoples and confirmed to the players that they had carried 'the flag in their hearts'" (113).

Likewise, according to Der Spiegel, the upper echelon of the Bonn government and political parties went all the way to Berlin to a reception for the German championship team in the overflowing Olympic Stadium. In other words, Fassbinder has here identified and cinematically exploited a powerful movement both in the history of German sports and political restoration.

Clearly, Fassbinder here employs Brechtian aesthetics and operates on the level of Brechtian politics. The emotion­al recording of the German World Cup victory, the birth of West German identity, drowns out the story of the individual, Maria Braun. With the championship, suddenly uniting all citizens of the Federal Republic, her on-air listing of the missing-in-action ends. Replacing personal enquiries on the Braun family radio, this sport event which raised national consciousness is broadcast. Moreover, this emotional report contributes dramatically to raising the character Maria Braun into a larger national figure. This is achieved by distancing.

Cinema lends itself well to the Brechtian objective of an open text. As Fassbinder demonstrates film's Brechtian Possibilities in THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN, cinema can invite a contrapuntal organization of modes of thought and presentation by its sheer availability of several channels of information, by the Gesamtkunstwerk available to film's light, visuals, music as well as on-and-off sound. In this trilogy about West Germany, especially his mas­terful THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN, Fassbinder has made ample use of film's dialectical potential.


Like Brecht's theater, Brechtian cinema (called also alternative or counter-cinema) attempts to dispense, at least intermittently, with cinema's aura of the transparently factual and the authentic.

Epic film uses an anti-illusionistic style of presentation. It replaces conventional suspense with a didactic-narrative presentation, the hypnotized spectator with the critical, rational one. The focus shifts from action and outcome to argument and analysis, using devices such as intertitles and commentary.

Distancing or alienation effects counter the viewers' passive, conventional perception of events and social acts. Brecht often opened up the theater space revealing the staging apparatus. Filmmkers often try to find ways to expose the very processes of cinematic signification, including making their own role visible.

Separation of elements: The Brechtian film separates action, sound, music, and the narrative voice. Rather than "natural" or suited to the occasion and situation, these usually integrated compnnents are contrasted. For example, Alexander Kluge accompanies images of Hitler with the Beatles' "Yesterday" in his sequence of the composite film, DAY OF GERMAN ART.

Social Gest (or Gestus): In Walter Benjamin's words, distancing an action or moment can highlight social relations between things rather than simply presenting them as unquestioned givens. For example, Kluge's YESTERDAY GIRL shows only the back view of the judge's head and frontal views of parts of his face emphasizing glasses and mouth. Here, Brecht and others are often indebted to the silent film.

Open Form: This means a less smooth, perfected and artful literary, theatrical and cinematic form than we conventionally expect. Dialectical, contradictory statements and image-sound relations raise questions the artist leaves unsolved, hoping the spectator will take up these issues.

Note: Mere use of documentary or commentary does not constitute the Brechtian mode. The above devices plus an emphasis on actual history and current events, the use of non-professional actors, rhymes, jump cutting, freeze frames, etc. are used cumulatively and for a clear social-political purpose not just for their own sake.


1. MARIA BRAUN, e.g., "re-shoots" the familiar frame of the checkered-pane window from Wolfgang Staudte's DIE MORDER SIND UNTER UNS /THE MURDERERS ARE AMONG US (1946) substituting Hanna Schygulla for Hildegard Knef/Neff. VERONIKA VOSS contains visual and acoustic reminiscences of fifties melodrama and music, such as Preminger's THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM (1955).

2. DIE EHE DER MARIA BRAUN. Series: Goldmann Pocket, 2nd edit. (Munich: Goldmann, 1979). With a "Nachbemerkung" by Zwerenz.

3. Richard Combs in his review speaks of a "mistake with a gas stove," bfi: Monthly Film Bulletin of the British Film Institute, Aug. 1980, p. 155. According to Hans-Dieter Seidel, Stuttgarter Zeitung, Feb. 22, 1979, "sprengt sic sich... einfach in die Luft," and Richard Greiner finds it simply impossible to believe in such an action, in "Screen Memories From Germany," Commentary, 69 (June 1980), 65-71, here: p. 67.

4. Interview. "Pressinformation. DIE EHE DER MARIA BRAUN." United Artists, Frankfurt, n.d., pp. 8-11. Here p. 9. Future short title: Interview UA.

5. This is the position taken by Richard Combs, bfi, Aug. 1980, p. 155, and by Robert Hatch, The Nation 229, No. 13, Oct. 27, 1979, 411-412.

The author owes thanks for helpful suggestions to Janet King Swaffar, John Hoberman, and Douglas Kellner, friends and distinguished colleagues.