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Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder • 1974 • West Germany
Starring Margit Carstensen, Karlheinz Böhm, Barbara Valentin
One of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s first forays into the classic melodrama style of his hero Douglas Sirk is a brilliantly perverse, operatically stylized portrait of a woman (Margit Carstensen) caught in a strange, sadomasochistic relationship with a monstrous husband (Karlheinz Böhm), whom she begins to suspect may be trying to murder her. Loosely based on a story by pulp-fiction master Cornell Woolrich, MARTHA finds Fassbinder tearing the institution of marriage to shreds with savage, subversive glee.