The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant
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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.Read more ›
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.
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 .
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved it. This was my first time warching a German film. Being that tbe film is from the early 70s, the themes are still relevant today.Published 1 month ago by alyssa
Great writing and performance. I like the minimalist setting. Enjoyed it very much.Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
The product was exactly as advertised--brand-new, in the original wrapper (cue the Lou Reed song)--but what really sets this company apart was their amazing service. Read morePublished on March 11, 2013 by Gerry Poster
The theatrical and minimal come together nicely in Fassbinder's study of a lesbian love triangle gone kaput. Read morePublished on July 19, 2010 by Steiner
This movie is everything opposite I like watching: a story of an upper-class dominating 35-old woman of Bremen, Germany - a popular fashion designer attracted to she-partners, rude... Read morePublished on October 15, 2009 by Michael Kerjman
THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT (1972)
"Love is colder than death" (Other Fassbinder's early films from 1969), could be one of the epigraph of this movie. Read more