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The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)

Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant (original title)
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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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 painting covering the wall in Petra's apartment is a gigantic blowup of Nicolas Poussin's 1629 painting "Midas and Bacchus" . See more »

Quotes

Sidonie: It's Karins fault.
Valerie von Kant: Karin? What's it to do with Karin?
Sidonie: Everyone knows Petra's mad about her.
Petra von Kant: Mad? I'm not mad, Sidonie. I love her! Love her as I've never loved anything in my life... that girl's little finger is worth more than the lot of you.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

References The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1932) See more »

Soundtracks

The Great Pretender
Written by Buck Ram
Performed by The Platters
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User Reviews

 
Key Film From The German Master
22 August 2006 | by shanejamesbordasSee 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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