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The BRD Trilogy (The Marriage of Maria Braun / Veronika Voss / Lola) (The Criterion Collection)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • Format: Anamorphic, Box set, Black & White, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: September 30, 2003
  • Run Time: 339 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AKY56
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,880 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The BRD Trilogy (The Marriage of Maria Braun / Veronika Voss / Lola) (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Special features for The Marriage of Maria Braun:
  • Audio commentary by cinematographer Michael Ballhaus and filmmaker Wim Wenders
  • Exclusive video interview with regular Fassbinder collaborator, Hanna Schygulla
  • Video interview with Fassbinder scholar Eric Rentschler
  • Special features for Veronica Voss:
  • Audio commentary by Fassbinder scholar Tony Rayns
  • New video conversation with star Rosel Zech and editor Juliane Lorenz
  • Dance with Death, a one-hour portrait of UFA Studios star, Sybille Schmitz, Fassbinder's inspiration for Veronika Voss
  • Special features for Lola:
  • Audio commentary by Fassbinder documentarian, biographer, and friend Christian Braad Thomsen
  • New video interview with Lola star Barbara Sukowa
  • New video interview with Fassbinder co-screenwriter Peter Marthesheimer
  • The Supplements (Fourth bonus disc)
  • 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, made for German television
  • Exclusive video interview with Fassbinder cinematographer Xaver Schwarzenberger
  • Exclusive video conversation between Fassbinder scholar Laurence Kardish and editor Juliane Lorenz

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Special Features New digital transfers with restored image and sound, enhanced for widescreen televisions; Audio commentary tracks by filmmaker Wim Wenders and cinematographer Michael Ballhaus (The Marriage of Maria Braun) film critic and author Tony Rayns (Veronika Voss), and film scholar Christian Braad Thomsen (Lola); Exclusive interviews with Fassbinder's leading women Hanna Schygulla (Maria Braun), Rosel Zech (Veronika Voss), and Barbara Sukowa (Lola); New interviews with cinematographer Xaver Schwarzenberger, screenwriter Peter Märthesheimer,

Amazon.com

There is at least one certifiable masterpiece in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy, and one could argue that all three films qualify for that honor. Conceived as a series of sociopolitical melodramas set during West Germany's "economic miracle" of post-war recovery (roughly 1947-60), these exquisitely crafted films found the prolific Fassbinder (1945-82) near the end of his astounding career and at the height of his creative powers, depicting post-war Germany as a land of repressed memory and surging capitalism, repressively avoiding any connection to the horrors of its Nazi past. Women were Fassbinder's conduit to analyzing the BDR (Bundesrepublik Deutchland) and its effect on the German character, resulting in three of the most remarkable female characters ever committed to film.

As noted in an affectionate commentary track by Fassbinder's friend and fellow director Wim Wenders, The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979) is Fassbinder's undisputed masterwork, a critical and box-office triumph that fulfilled Fassbinder's goal of creating a "German Hollywood melodrama" in the tradition of his director-hero, Douglas Sirk. Beautifully shot by Michael Ballhaus (who advanced to brilliant collaborations with Martin Scorsese), it stars Hanna Schygulla in her signature role as a newlywed whose missing husband returns in the mid-'50s, just as she's reinventing herself through opportunism, seduction, and blind ambition--a woman, like Germany, determined to forget her miserable past, with explosively tragic results. "BRD 2" is the wickedly satirical Veronika Voss (1982), filmed in black and white (a stylistic nod to German'y's post-war thrillers) and starring Rosel Zech as a faded film star-turned-morphine addict making futile attempts to revive her career. Set in 1957, Lola ("BRD 3," 1981) is Fassbinder's homage to Josef von Sternberg's The Blue Angel, and stars Barbara Sukowa as a cabaret singer and prostitute who, like Maria Braun, is for sale to the highest bidder--in this case a straight-laced official (Armin Mueller-Stahl) who discovers the high cost of ignorance.

Taken together, these films form an impressively coherent vision, compassionate and yet brutally honest, unsentimental, and provocatively critical of post-war Germany. In the established tradition of the Criterion Collection, extensive supplements explore the depth of Fassbinder's achievement. Three commentaries, each with their own uniquely personal and/or critical perspective, are among the finest Criterion has ever recorded. Interviews with Schygulla, Zech, Sukowa, and many of Fassbinder's closest collaborators pay latter-day tribute to Fassbinder and his extended family of on- and off-screen talent, while the 96-minute German TV documentary I Don't Just Want You to Love Me explores Fassbinder's tragically curtailed life and work through abundant film clips and interviews. A filmed 1978 interview with Fassbinder himself--at 49 minutes, the longest ever recorded--offers further insight into the psychology and chain-smoking intensity of a man who burned out from drugs and exhaustion at the age of 37. Along with the collected Adventures of Antoine Doinel, the BRD Trilogy is one of the most impressive DVD sets ever released, and a sparkling jewel in Criterion's crown. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

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Moreover all three films have a very different style.
Mr Peter G George
All three films have much to recommend, but my favorite remains "Veronika Voss," a bonafide masterpiece and for my money, the best of the series.
M. McM
They are all aout post-war Germany, they are all about women, and they are all about coruption.
Stalwart Kreinblaster

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Mr Peter G George on December 14, 2003
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.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By "nakedinthesnow" on September 20, 2003
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.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Beth Fox on February 3, 2005
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stalwart Kreinblaster on September 10, 2004
These three films are all similar and yet different. They are all aout post-war Germany, they are all about women, and they are all about coruption. And yet it is hard to find a trilogy in which the films are so different. The Marriage of Maria Brown is about a women's dedication to her husband despite his absence - and her success through any means possible - including prostituting herself - which mirrors the situation of Germany and its economic miracle - which came at a large price which can be witnessed in the films powerful last scene.

Lola is also about a woman who is reduced to prostitution - but is also about a longing for innocence in a way. The character of Von Bohm represents this innocence - that over the course of the film gets dragged through the mud only to come out at the other end as he buys Lola from Schukert.

Veronica Voss is a fitting end to the trilogy ending in a very tragic scene from Rosel Zech.

Fassbinder's collaboration with Xaver Schwarzenberger in the last two films is amazing. Never has anyone exhibited as much control over lighting and image and its relationship to content as these two geniuses do here (and in Berlin Alexanderplatz).
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