best film:   There are two potential answers here. Werckmeister Harmonies (2000) from Bela Tarr is the answer in the strictest sense. Hanna Schygulla plays Tünde Eszter and she is fantastic in her limited screen time opposite Lars Rudolph. If one was to consider only the films where Schygulla contributes a larger amount to the greater result of the film,  it would be 1979’s The Marriage of Maria Braun here as the answer.  This is the first film in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s BRD trilogy, which is really the great German auteur’s most artistically fertile stretch.


Hanna Schygulla plays Janos’ (Lars Rudolph) aunt, a gorgeous grayscale series of moving picture photographs as she dances in the doorway at the 82-minute mark



best performance:  It is fitting that it is a Fassbinder film here: The Marriage of Maria Braun. This is the strongest of the four archiveable films between Fassbinder and his muse Schygulla.



Schygulla gives a tour-de-force performance as the titular character: Maria Braun




stylistic innovations/traits:  If Klaus Kinski is the male acting face of the New German Cinema of the 1970s and 1980s, then Hanna Schygulla is the female acting face of this rich movement in cinema history. Schygulla is known for being able to portray both viciousness and sympathy. She could pull off playing both Fassbinder’s sadistically cruel abuser (almost all of his films have at least one character playing this part) and the naïve victim- with equal skill and measure. She gives one of the best acting performances of the year in back-to-back years (1979 and 1980) making her one of the best female actors of her generation. It is hard to talk about Schygulla without talking about Fassbinder. If Fassbinder had not died so young, it seems plausible that Schygulla would be a top twenty (20) female actor of all-time.



one of the crown jewel compositions of Fassbinder’s career and the New German Cinema movement- from The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant–  Schygulla as Karin Thimm




directors worked with:   R.W. Fassbinder (4), and then Andrzej Wajda (2), Jean-Luc Godard (1), Kenneth Branagh (1), and Bela Tarr (1)



top five performances:

  1.  The Marriage of Maria Braun
  2.  Berlin Alexanderplatz
  3.  The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant
  4.  A Love in Germany
  5.  The Merchant of Four Seasons



archiveable films

1972- The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant
1972- The Merchant of Four Seasons
1979- The Marriage of Maria Braun
1980- Berlin Alexanderplatz
1981- Circle of Deceit
1982- Passion
1983- A Love in Germany
1991- Dead Again
2000- Werckmeister Harmonies
2007- The Edge of Heaven