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Martha and I

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Original title
Martha et moi (Marta a já)
Running time
105 min.
France France
Jirí Weiss
Jirí Stivín
Viktor Ruzicka
, , , ,
Co-production France-Germany-Austria-Italy; Canal+ / Iduna Film Produktiongesellschaft / Progéfi / Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI) / TF1 Films Production / Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) / Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF)
Synopsis / Plot
Prague, 1934. The family of fourteen-year-old Emil Kluge is horrified when one day Emil's uncle, his mother's brother, Ernst, appears on the doorstep with his new bride. For Martha, the doctor's wife to be, is his former maid. She is obese, awkward, badly dressed with a mouth full of bad teeth, and the doctor's bourgeois sisters feel personally affronted. Only Emil, who is just discovering happiness in his first love, takes a spontaneous liking to Martha. He accompanies her patiently all around Prague to the best fashion shops, to hair-dressers and dentists, and finally succeeds in introducing a still timid though quite presentable new member to his family. But nothing can induce Emil's mother and her sisters to give up their hostile attitude towards Martha. Martha's family is likewise enraged about her marriage to Ernst for they despise Ernst as a Jew who is an intruder in their German family. Despite all adversities, Martha and Ernst are happy together. Martha turns into a self-confident woman who finds fulfillment in her marriage to the doctor. Emil, the only person who is pleased about the happiness of the "young" couple, is a welcome guest in their house. Over the years, Martha and Ernst give him all kinds of advice and support, also in matters of the heart. Martha's and Ernst's days of happiness are numbered, however. In 1938 Hitler mobilizes and the situation suddenly becomes threatening for Ernst, the Jew. He is compelled to give up practising and begins to worry about Martha who, as the wife of a Jew, is also endangered. Ernst decides to divorce Martha to protect her. But Martha will not leave the man she loves. On the contrary, she desperately tries to find an opportunity for Ernst to emigrate to the United States. Emil flees to England and only returns to Prague after the war is over. He searches for Martha and Ernst in vain. Finally, he learns from Martha's family that they had kidnapped her before the outbreak of the war at the instigation of Ernst, who was taken away shortly after. Martha, who had never forgiven her family for having seperated her from Ernst, had been seen standing on a bridge for many days and nights, watching the trains in which the Jews were deported. And one day, Martha had also disappeared.
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