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Martha

The everyday fascism Fassbinder dissects often rests on the simple observation that there are elements of sado-masochism even in such respectable bourgeois relationships as true romance and happy-ever-after marriage. Here, his script an adaptation of a story by Cornell Woolrich, he takes the staples of the Sirk melodrama (love at first sight, a big-dipper courtship, a honeymoon drive) and stands them on their heads, combining '40s costumes and movie references with recognisably real locations and high colour photography. He forces to their logical extremes the attitudes implicit in the woman's weepie and the little woman's traditional craving for a strong and competent man, pushing a sentimental romance into a high camp study of SM, full of images of vampirism, claustrophobia and haunted house genre movies. With no explicit references to a world beyond the screen, with indulgently aesthetic settings and outlandishly theatrical performances (notably from Carstensen as the perennially hapless victim), he creates a dazzling baroque abstraction with unsettling relevance to even the most mundane domestic partnerships.

Release details

Duration: 95 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Screenwriter: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Cast: Margit Carstensen
Karlheinz Böhm
Gisela Fackeldey
Adrian Hoven
Barbara Valentin
Ingrid Caven
Peter Chatel
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