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The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)

Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 5 October 1972 (West Germany)
An arrogant fashion designer falls in love with an icy beauty who wants to be a model.

Writers:

Rainer Werner Fassbinder (play), Rainer Werner Fassbinder (screenplay)
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3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Margit Carstensen ... Petra von Kant (as Margit Cartensen)
Hanna Schygulla ... Karin Thimm
Katrin Schaake ... Sidonie von Grasenabb
Eva Mattes ... Gabriele von Kant
Gisela Fackeldey Gisela Fackeldey ... Valerie von Kant
Irm Hermann ... Marlene
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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 | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

West Germany

Language:

German

Release Date:

5 October 1972 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

DEM 325,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The actresses portraying Petra and her young upstart model protégé Karin are less than four years apart. See more »

Quotes

Petra von Kant: I felt nothing for him anymore. Far from it, it got worse. When we ate together his chewing... it was like an explosion. When he swallowed my gorge rose. The way he cut meat, held his cigarette, his whiskey glass... it all seemed so absurd, so affected. I was ashamed for him because I imagined everyone must see him as I did. Of course, it was hysteria. Panic, Sidonie. There was nothing left to save. The end.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Soundtracks

Smoke Gets Into Your Eyes
Music by Jerome Kern with lyrics by Otto A. Harbach
Performed by The Platters
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User Reviews

Caustic, Venomous But Strangely Poignant
26 October 1999 | by BishonenSee 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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