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

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  5 October 1972 (West Germany)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 4,519 users  
Reviews: 24 user | 49 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:

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Release Date:

5 October 1972 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant  »

Box Office

Budget:

DEM 325,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The painting covering the wall in Petra's apartment is a gigantic blowup of Nicolas Poussin's 1629 painting "Midas and Bacchus" . See more »

Quotes

Petra von Kant: He stank like a man. The way men stink. What had once had its charms now turned my stomach and brought tears to my eyes.
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Crazy Credits

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


Soundtracks

'Un dì felice' from 'La Traviata'
Written by Giuseppe Verdi
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User Reviews

 
Key Film From The German Master
22 August 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Claustrophobic, talky and highly inventive – The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant is a key film in the development of R.W. Fassbinder's art. According to longtime colleague Ulli Lommel, Fassbinder wrote the entire work (which also became a play and, posthumously, a modernist opera) during an 11 hour plane journey from Germany to LA. Excited by this flush of creativity, Fassbinder ordered his entourage to head straight back home and shot the entire film in a extraordinary 10 days.

Set wholly within one room in the home of successful fashion designer Petra Von Kant, the film deals with the destructive love affair Petra (Margit Carstensen) begins with aspiring model Karin (Hanna Schygulla). As one of Fassbinder's early forays into the reexamination of 1950's Hollywood melodrama, the film has the tendency to polarise audiences with it's highly stylised and almost stagy approach. Even the lack of incidental music may jar with those not familiar with the director's work. Rather than using a swelling score giving cues to the emotions the audience is meant to feel, Fassbinder opts instead for selective natural sound (a typewriter endlessly clacking away in the background during an important scene, for instance) and records from Von Kant's (i.e. Fassbinder's) record collection. Without this trapping, we watch Petra's self-destruction with a certain ambiguity and a more considered response is elicited from the viewer. More space is also given to the magnificent dialogue and inventive camera-work (shot in long, winding takes) which allows the fine ensemble cast to to plunder the depths of emotional despair, all the while dressed in Von Kant's wonderfully outrageous designs.

This is all the more fascinating when read as a thinly veiled confession of Fassbinder's domineering ways with those in his inner circle. As also pointed out by Lommel, the film's exclusively female characters were actually all based on men. Fassbinder, however, mostly preferred to work with women as he felt they were freer to express extreme states of emotional truth and more open to the requirements of high melodrama. As a primer for the great director's work, The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant is an excellent example of Fassbinder's over-riding theme: how the hunter can quickly become the victim and that the universality of desire and need within all human relationships is a constant, regardless of status, sexuality or age.


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