The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder • 1972 • West Germany

In the early 1970s, Rainer Werner Fassbinder discovered the American melodramas of Douglas Sirk and was inspired by them to begin working in a new, more intensely emotional register. One of the first and best-loved films of this period in his career is The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, which balances a realistic depiction of tormented romance with staging that remains true to the director's roots in experimental theater. This unforgettable, unforgiving dissection of the imbalanced relationship between a haughty fashion designer (Margit Carstensen) and a beautiful but icy ingenue (Hanna Schygulla), based, in a sly gender reversal, on the writer-director's own desperate obsession with a young actor, is a true Fassbinder affair, featuring exquisitely claustrophobic cinematography by Michael Ballhaus and full-throttle performances by an all-female cast.

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The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant
  • The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

    Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder • 1972 • West Germany

    In the early 1970s, Rainer Werner Fassbinder discovered the American melodramas of Douglas Sirk and was inspired by them to begin working in a new, more intensely emotional register. One of the first and best-loved films of this period i...

Extras

  • Outsiders

    This documentary, produced in 2014, features actors Margit Carstensen, Eva Mattes, Katrin Schaake, and Hanna Schygulla discussing the production of THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT and their experiences working with director Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

  • Michael Ballhaus, 2014

    The following interview with THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT cinematographer Michael Ballhaus was conducted in Berlin in 2014.

  • Jane Shattuc on THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT

    This interview with Jane Shattuc, professor of visual and media arts at Emerson College and author of “Television, Tabloids, and Tears: Fassbinder and Popular Culture,” was conducted in September 2014.

  • Role Play: Women on Fassbinder

    This 1992 documentary, directed by Thomas Honickel for German television, features interviews with actors Margit Carstensen, Irm Hermann, Hanna Schygulla, and Rosel Zech.