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Martha


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Editorial Reviews

MARTHA - DVD Movie

Special Features

  • Fassbinder in Hollywood a feature-length documentary featuring new interviews with many of Fassbinder's collaborators
  • Liner notes by Jonathan Rosenbaum, author of Midnight Movies and Placing Movies

Product Details

  • Actors: Margit Carstensen, Karlheinz Böhm, Barbara Valentin, Peter Chatel, Gisela Fackeldey
  • Directors: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Fantoma
  • DVD Release Date: April 13, 2004
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001A79DA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,422 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Martha" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
5 star
78%
4 star
11%
3 star
11%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 9 customer reviews
Pure Genious, The world will never again see a movie as great.
dickpound
The film progresses beautifully, lingering long enough to fester in our minds and give us chills.
Andrew Ellington
He gives her Orlando di Lasso to listen to, which Martha says is boring.
Russell Fanelli

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Russell Fanelli TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 29, 2004
Format: DVD
Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Martha deserves a wide and appreciative audience. This film demonstrates the power of the visual image to tell a story completely. If you do not speak German and you turn off the subtitles, my guess is that you will understand most of the story just by watching closely what happens. Fassbinder's creative use of the camera to dramatize important moments of the plot development and his placement of his actors in each carefully constructed scene support and dramatize the spoken word.

Martha is a librarian who watches helplessly as her father dies of heart failure on the Spanish Steps in Rome. On her way for help to the German Embassy in Rome, she passes by a man who takes special notice of her. Fassbinder emphasizes this chance meeting by using a startling 360 degree camera shot. We know instantly that this encounter will have important consequences later in the story. In fact, Martha meets the man again at a wedding reception in Germany. After a brief courtship, she marries him and begins her slow descent into a living hell.

The man she marries is Helmut Salamon, a structural engineer who immediately begins to take complete control over Martha's life. He tenders her resignation at her job, establishes her in an old fashioned mansion which Martha hates, isolates her from friends and family, and finally asks that she not go out of the house at all. Sexually he abuses her with his violent passion which includes bites that are clearly visible and painful. He tells her to stop listening to her favorite music. Ironically, she loves Lucia de Lammermoor. He gives her Orlando di Lasso to listen to, which Martha says is boring. He even demands that she read a book on structural engineering.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 16, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Rainer Werner Fassbinder's "Martha" is both a horror movie and (as Fassbinder said of Hitchcock's "Suspicion") "the most drastic film I know against the institution of bourgeois marriage." Filmed for German TV in 1973 with cinematographer Michael Ballhaus (who went on to shoot, among other films, Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula") "Martha" features hysterical performances by Margit Carstensen and Karlheinz Bohm. Fassbinder ripped the plot off from a Cornell Woolrich story, and this kept the film locked up in legal limbo for years. It has been out in Germany for almost ten years, and now American viewers decide for themselves if the title for this review is just guff or what. "Martha" is Fassbainder's riff on Hitchcock's "Suspicion" and "Marnie," George Cukor's "Gaslight," and Max Ophüls' "Caught," all films about a sadistically authoritarian husband who psychologically coerces his wife. Filmed in the candy-color style of Universal-era Hitchcock, "Martha" is super-creepy and hilarious. Cheers to Fantoma for their lovely digital transfer of this criminally under-seen film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brian on April 4, 2007
Format: DVD
I've had a difficult time trying to digest Fassbinder. As congenially as I can process his work-- ugly, obvious and shrill as humanity itself (I consider 'Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?' his seminal accomplishment)-- I figure he falls somewhere between Godard and Corman. His insatiable need to press on to the next work, granted his inability to focus on the current one, is well documented and it shows in 'Martha' (1974), most apparently in his lack of attention to dramatic structure. In the opening act he effectively establishes Martha as a womanchild, a spinster-before-her-time, loved but sexually reviled by her father, wholly unsympathetic in character, pitiable for her needs both emotional and physical. Enter out of the ether Helmut (played scantly but memorably by Peeping Tom's Karlheinz Bohm), a controlling, often sadistic lover and soon-to-be husband, who subjects the pathetic Martha to a gauntlet of psychological rope-a-dopes, most of which she fails predictably. Over the course of the two acts that follow, archetypal masculine pupeteering ensues. Problem is, creepy as the going gets, and as nicely staged and photographed as the sordid material is (the sunburn/sex scene is perhaps the truest, subtlest moment of onscreen torture I've ever witnessed), there's little doubt of the outcome and we have equally little feeling for the victim who begs oppression as we have for the clever oppressor. In other words, Helmut's cruelty is more or less neutralized by Martha's ingratiating emptiness (which, sadly, is probably Fassbinder's point). It's a straightforward, shudder-inducing example of domestic Stockholm syndrome (forget Sirk, et al) that entertains morbidly, but fails to enlighten. Fantoma's release offers a reasonably clean fullscreen print and a documentary about the director. 2 1/2 stars for the film, 3 1/2 for presentation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Ellington VINE VOICE on March 16, 2009
Format: DVD
There comes a point in `Martha', actually, a scene that is depicted on the cover of the DVD, when Martha is sitting back to back with the monstrosity she calls a husband; and it is in that scene that the film comes together and makes the loudest most definitive statement possible. My only regret is that the credits did not start to roll at that exact point, for if they had I would be tempted to say it was one of the best films of that given year, and possibly of all time. Instead, `Martha' continues on for a bit longer and steeps further into madness. It's not that the film goes sour, it's just that it makes a drastically different point and I much preferred the point I initially thought was being made.

The film starts with Martha and her father on vacation. Martha's father suddenly dies and Martha finds upon her return home a mother cold and bitter and accusatory.

This is all Martha's fault.

Despite her mother's coldness, Martha decides to decline the marriage proposal of her employer in order to stay and take care of her mother. As time progresses though she realizes that her mother will only destroy her, and so when the mysterious Helmut proposes she accepts, only to soon realize that this sadistic man is going to do more damage than she can imagine.

The film progresses beautifully, lingering long enough to fester in our minds and give us chills. This is the first film I've seen by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, but it will not be the last. He has a rather remarkable way of creating a mood and sustaining it. He's like a more brutal version of Alfred Hitchcock. He captures the madness within his characters; the oppressors and the victims, and embellishes it masterfully.
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