The Marriage of Maria Braun
(Die Ehe der Maria Braun)

Hermann and Maria Braun's marriage in 1945, occurring in the midst of a bombing, lasts only a single night and day before Hermann has to return to the front of the war. During the war, Maria trades on the black market to keep herself and her mother alive, continually entertaining hopes of her husband's return. After the war, however, Hermann does not return, and Maria is eventually told that he is dead. She takes a job at a bar, where she meets Mr. Bill, an African-American soldier who becomes her lover. One day, Hermann suddenly returns, interrupting their love scene, resulting in a fight between the two men. Just as Hermann is about to lose, Maria hits Mr. Bill over the head, killing him. Hermann confesses to the murder instead of Maria, and he is sent to jail for several years. Promising her husband that their life together will begin as soon as he is released, Maria focuses on attaining wealth. She meets Oswald, a wealthy businessman, who falls in love with her and helps her rise to a leading position in his company. However, upon Hermann's release from prison, he disappears and mysteriously returns upon Oswald's death. When Oswald's will is read, it is learned that Oswald agreed to give Hermann half of his fortune if Hermann would let him be with Maria until his death. Soon after, a gas explosion occurs, blowing up Maria, Hermann, and their house.

Maria is a symbol of postwar Germany attempting to cope with the recent tragic past. At the beginning of the film, Maria spends her days walking through the rubble, looking for her missing husband. Trummerfrauen, women who are helping to rebuild Germany, are seen in the distance. Konrad Adenauer is heard giving a speech over the radio, but it is ignored as Maria and her family eat dinner. This is typical of Germany at the time. The Germans became emotionless, because of either a refusal to mourn, or a denial of the past. Maria sets aside her private life and her feelings to reach her main goal of achieving material wealth, characteristic of the Economic Miracle that took place in Germany several years after the war. There was a decline in moral values, but an increase in profit, caused by Germans attempting to cope with the past by busying themselves and rebuilding their lives and their country. However, in doing so the German people began to "forget" about their past, as does Maria in the film. This is symbolized by the final scene in which she forgets that the gas on the stove is on, and she lights a match, bringing about the destruction of everything towards which she has worked. Maria, like Germany, has surrounded itself in wealth, but has lost its mind and soul, in an unsuccessful attempt to deal with the past.

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