The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant


Reviewed by: Moominkat

The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant
"Lengthy and charmless."

This is a four-act plus one closing scene version of Fassbinder’s play, featuring an all female cast, which takes place in the bedroom/workspace of Petra Von Kant’s house.

Petra (Margit Carstensen) is an appallingly self-satisfied and selfish fashion designer, dismissive of other people’s feelings. For instance, her mother phones and Petra barely listens to what she has to say; she orders Marlene (Irm Hermann), her subservient maid/personal-assistant/assistant designer around and when her friend Sidonie (Katrin Schaake) drops by, she treats her to a discourse on her ex-husband and failed marriage, somehow convinced that she was the winner.

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Sidonie then introduces Petra to Karin, (Hanna Schygulla), a 23-year old beauty and would-be model, herself recently separated from her husband, left in Australia. Petra is smitten by Karin, much to the silent dismay of Marlene, who obviously hero worships her mistress, and immediately suggests she move in with her. Karin agrees, protesting feebly. The next time we see the couple, the tables have turned somewhat: Petra has become submissive and whining: repeatedly demanding that Karin say she loves her, while an irritable Karin treats her dismissively, taunting her with stories of lovemaking with a man.

I found this play/film lengthy and charmless: I had no sympathy for the characters or what happens to them and the dialogue seemed to me prosaic and banal, although perhaps in 1972 this treatment was daring and fresh.

Certainly, the feature film interview with Harry Baer (included on this DVD) made think about the film in a slightly different light – because of course, this is Fassbinder writing about his personal experience of a failed gay love affair (he was openly bisexual). Harry Baer tells us he remembers some of the dialogue in the play/film being used for real in arguments between Fassbinder and his lover. I’m afraid that even knowing this didn’t make the film a better watch for me.

Reviewed on: 13 Nov 2007
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The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant packshot
Snapshot of the life of a self-centred fashion designer. Out to own now on the RW Fassbinder Commemorative Collection: Volume 1.
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Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Writer: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, adapted from his play

Starring: Margit Carstensen, Hanna Schygulla, Katrin Schaake, Eva Mattes, Gisela Fackeldey, Irm Hermann

Year: 1972

Runtime: 124 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: West Germany


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