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The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
"Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant" (original title)

7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 4,231 users  
Reviews: 23 user | 36 critic

Petra von Kant is a successful fashion designer -- arrogant, caustic, and self-satisfied. She mistreats Marlene (her secretary, maid, and co-designer). Enter Karin, a 23-year-old beauty who... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Margit Carstensen ...
...
Katrin Schaake ...
Eva Mattes ...
Gisela Fackeldey ...
Irm Hermann ...
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Storyline

Petra von Kant is a successful fashion designer -- arrogant, caustic, and self-satisfied. She mistreats Marlene (her secretary, maid, and co-designer). Enter Karin, a 23-year-old beauty who wants to be a model. Petra falls in love with Karin and invites her to move in. The rest of the film deals with the emotions of this affair and its aftermath. Fassbinder tells his story in a series of 5 or 6 long scenes with extended uses of a single camera shot and deep focus. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Sex is the ultimate weapon.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 October 1972 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant  »

Box Office

Budget:

DEM 325,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film was shot in ten days. See more »

Quotes

Petra von Kant: It's easy to pity, Sidonie, but so much harder to understand. If you understand someone, don't pity them, change them. Only pity what you cant understand.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Gewidmet dem, der hier Marlene wurde. (Dedicated to the one who became Marlene here) See more »

Connections

Referenced in All About My Mother (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

The Great Pretender
Written by Buck Ram
Performed by The Platters
See more »

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User Reviews

Caustic, Venomous But Strangely Poignant
26 October 1999 | by See all my reviews

The one-apartment setting for this film creates a very appropriate sense of claustrophobia and confinement. Fassbinder and actress Margin Carstensen masterfully detail the progression of Petra's deterioration. The schematic framework of this film is not apparent at first; nothing initially indicates Petra's vulnerability and neuroses which makes her ultimate psychic annihilation more poignant. Fassbinder's view of human relationships was egocentric and borders on the cynical---however his work resonates because the approach is so unsentimental and Carstensen is unafraid to make the character unsympathetic, even pathetic as she pines for the return of an absent lover (Schygulla) in the devastating latter half of the film.

The production design and cinematography (by the great Michael Ballhaus-"Bram Stoker's Dracula") are magnificent in that instead of creating great vistas or otherworldly visions, they remain firmly entrenched in a context of confinement and claustrophobia. The artifice (note the outlandish outfits!!!) and overhyped hothouse atmosphere of the film contribute to a feeling of imprisonment; Petra is trapped by her loneliness and neuroses. There's no freedom, no exits, no light, no room to breathe.

The final shot, overlaid with the rock song "The Great Pretender" on the soundtrack, haunts.

A difficult, challenging, at times tedious work, with characters who are human in some very unpleasant ways. Not for an action-movie crowd or people who dig Spielbergian easy answers. "Die Bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant" deserves applause for walking so unflinchingly on the dark and lonely side of the street.


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