Rainer Werner Fassbinder, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (still), 1972; image: courtesy Janus Films


The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

Part of Modern Cinema: Criterion Collection and Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Modern Cinema’s Founding Supporters are Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein.

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This unforgettable, unforgiving dissection of the imbalanced relationship between a haughty fashion designer (Margit Carstensen) and a beautiful but icy ingénue (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.

Rainer Fassbinder’s strange study of unrequited love finds a sincerely emotional pivot buried deep within the drama of the lavishly high-camp shenanigans…Rudeness has never looked so stylish and the two actresses turn banter into an art form of hissed comebacks and monotonous rebuttals. Perhaps Fassbinder means to essay relationships as the tragicomic disasters he feels they really are. Reputedly based on his own attachment to a young male actor he had been smitten with, the director finds a caustic balance in these two women who can’t decide which of them needs the other most.” —Imran Kahn, PopMatters

Film Details

Country: Germany
Language: German
Year: 1972
Running time: 125 min
Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Producers: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Michael Fengler
Writer: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Cinematographer: Michael Ballhaus
Editor: Thea Eymèsz
With: Margit Carstensen, Hanna Schygulla
Print Source: Janus Films

Films and schedules may be subject to change.