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The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

4.1 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Rainer Werner Fassbinder adapted his own play for this modern twist on The Women, the great all-female Hollywood classic of sex and social conventions in high society. Margit Carstensen is successful dress designer Petra, Irm Hermann her silent, obedient secretary/servant/Girl Friday Marlene (whom she alternately abuses and ignores), and Hanna Schygulla the callow, shallow young Karin, a seemingly naive blond beauty Petra treats as part protegée, part pet, until the calculating kitten turns on Petra. Michael Ballhaus's prowling camera finds Marlene silently hovering on the borders of Petra's dramas, looking on through doors and windows like an adoring lover from afar. Bouncing between catty melodrama and naked emotional need, it's a quintessentially Fassbinder portrait of doomed love, jealousy, and social taboos. The DVD features commentary by Fassbinder scholar Jane Shattuc, the early 1966 Fassbinder short films The City Tramp and The Little Chaos, the bonus documentary Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and filmographies. --Sean Axmaker

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Margit Carstensen, Hanna Schygulla, Katrin Schaake, Eva Mattes, Gisela Fackeldey
  • Directors: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • Writers: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • Producers: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Michael Fengler
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Fox Lorber
  • DVD Release Date: October 29, 2002
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Domestic Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • International Shipping: This item is not eligible for international shipping. Learn More
  • ASIN: B00006IUHE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,705 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Clark on January 7, 2003
Format: DVD
The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972), one of Fassbinder's masterpieces, explores the tortured connections between desire and power. Not only is the DVD of exceptional quality, it includes both of Fassbinder's fascinating short films ("The City Tramp" and "The Little Chaos") plus a revealing documentary.
Although Bitter Tears remains one of Fassbinder's most controversial films - in part for its severely limited depiction of women's lives - it is also one of his most powerful. Fortunately, the range of lesbian-themed films in the past thirty years has presented women's experiences in considerably more diversity and fullness, so perhaps now we can better evaluate the film's considerable merits.
Fassbinder's casts are always uniformly strong, but this one is extraordinary, especially Margit Carstensen in the title role (she won several awards), Hanna Schygulla (with whom Fassbinder made 20 pictures) as her new lover Karin Thimm, and Irm Herrman as Petra's mysterious assistant Marlene who, without uttering one word, at times dominates with her sheer presence.
The film is astonishing for its interweaving of raw emotion with stunning and meticulous design. Fassbinder and director of photography Michael Ballhaus (who shot about half of the director's films, and now does all of Scorsese's pictures) wrest every bit of visual interest from the single claustrophobic set (we never leave this one apartment). The endlessly inventive deep focus compositions provide a series of emotionally penetrating, and technically virtuosic, comments on the action - ironic, allusive, symbolic, and visually gorgeous.
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Format: VHS Tape
Boy, oh, boy! The crankiest lesbians you'd ever want to see just talking and fighting, talking and drinking, talking and dancing to the Platters! I can't think of a better way to spend two hours. This one's amazing. Perhaps the ultimate Fassbinder: excruciating for many, sheer heaven for a lucky few. When brittle but oh-so-vulnerable Petra, wearing her bizarre Wagneresque 'gown' with the glittery pretzel-shaped decolletage, puts "In My Room" on the phonograph and starts bitching to gorgeous, scheming Karin about her first marriage, it'll send you into the stratosphere. Kinky, trashily hilarious, profound and political -- what more could you possibly want in a movie?
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Format: DVD
Considerable journalism and scholarship has been devoted to Fassbinder's admiration for works of Danish-born film director Douglas Sirk. However Fassbinder did, in fact, loosely borrow from many melodramatic texts, Mildred Pierce for The Marriage of Maria Braun, Sunset Blvd. for Veronica Voss, both in the BRD Trilogy, and in the case of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, from Joseph's Mankiewicz's All About Eve.
In the audio commentary, popular arts critic Jane Shattuc makes reference to Fassbinder's theatrical renderings in the film, Petra's couture costumes, tightly framed background shots of the Poussin painting in Petra's apartment, and use of lighting, all of which provide the viewers with every bit of intimacy as a performance on stage.
Obviously his own background and training in theater was one source of inspiration for the film. But certainly another was his fascination with Hollywood melodrama, and specifically in this instance, Joseph Mankiewicz's characteriztion of Broadway legend Margo Channing and her idol Eve Harrington in All About Eve.
While same class consciousness dyanamics are evident in both films, so are elements of lesbianism and bi-sexuality. Only in the case of Fassbinder the class differences between Petra, her appentice, and the Hanna Schgulla character become stark and more exaggerated. As for sexual oreintation, what's implied in All About Eve is more evident in Petra von Kant and worthy of a enough consideration to do a doctorial dissertation on the subject.
i love this film because it provides the most vivid and detailed characterizations of female intentions, wants, and desires of any other film in the Fassbinder canon, including the female characters in the BRD Trilogy or Berlin Alexanderplatz.
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Format: DVD
The film is based in the theatrical work of the same name of Rainer Werner Fassbinder . the only stage of the action is the workshop dwelling of the protagonist , the fashion designer Petra von Kant a refined and eccentric woman divorced twice who lives with her secretary-slave Marlene. But that selfish human beingsuddenly will fall in love with Karim, ayoung beauty of modest origin who enjoys the luxury offered by Petra without serious commitment respect her lover . That happiness period will break when Karim decides to reconciliate with her husband . Petra , obviously is very distured and she rebuilds many aspects of her past behavior , but when she proposes Marlene a participation in the business , Marlene leaves home .

This was one the creative peaks in the career of this indefatigable creator of human portraits . Somehow Petra is a mirror image of him in those times . But far beyond the anecdotic aspect ,the film is a merciless story about the loneliness and hopeless gaze of the female world . Personally I do not know about another film maker in the story of the cinema who deals with these themes with such fineness and deepness . He never will take a previous attitude ; he drowns in these troubled waters and suffers with them their triumphs and calamities . He is the legitimate son of Douglas Sirk with a major scope , indeed .

Since his early death in 1982 , when he just was in his thirties (36) , the creative world of the german cinema still remains inciomplete . You may name Percy Aldon , Herzog , Wenders , Kluge and Hauff but something lost in the environment , due the prodigious and outstanding mind of Fassbinder is absent .
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