The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

Watch The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

"Sex is the ultimate weapon."
  • NR
  • 1972
  • 2 hr 4 min
  • 7.6  (10,768)
  • 73

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is a German movie from 1972 directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The movie features Margit Carstensen as Petra von Kant, a successful and wealthy fashion designer who lives in a luxurious apartment in West Berlin. Petra, a divorced mother of one, is portrayed as a strong-willed, dominant and narcissistic woman who enjoys controlling and manipulating those around her.

The film is set almost entirely within Petra's apartment, and the narrative is divided into five acts, each with a different tone and theme. The first act introduces the audience to Petra and her assistant and friend, Marlene, played by Irm Hermann. Petra is shown drinking heavily and struggling with her work, as she waits to hear from her latest lover, a married man named Heinrich. When Heinrich finally calls, Petra is overjoyed, and they plan to meet later that night.

In the second act, Heinrich arrives, and the pair begin a passionate affair. Petra is shown at her most vulnerable and needy as she falls deeply in love with Heinrich, despite his lack of commitment. However, Marlene begins to worry about Petra's emotional state and tries to intervene, with disastrous consequences. The third act sees Petra's daughter, Gabi, arrive home from boarding school, and the once dominant and confident Petra is reduced to a sobbing mess.

The fourth act is the most confrontational, as the focus shifts to the dynamics between Petra and her immediate surroundings. The presence of another young girl, Karin, played by Hanna Schygulla, throws Petra off-kilter. Karin is a sexually liberated, self-assured woman who is not intimidated by Petra's status or money. Despite her previous hostility towards Marlene, Petra becomes infatuated with Karin and invites her to move in, causing chaos and jealousy.

The final act is the most painful, as Petra's illusions are shattered, and she is forced to confront the reality of her situation. She is shown to be completely vulnerable and emotionally destroyed. Petra's attempt to maintain control and manipulate those around her is shown as a tragic flaw that leads to her downfall. As the credits roll, the audience is left with a sense of unease and sadness at Petra's fate.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is a masterful and intense exploration of love, power, and control. Fassbinder's direction is claustrophobic, with the action taking place mostly in a small apartment, and the cinematography by Michael Ballhaus is beautiful, capturing the intimate and intense moments between the characters. The performances are all outstanding, with Margit Carstensen giving a powerful and nuanced portrayal of Petra, and Hanna Schygulla a standout as Karin. The movie has been recognized as a classic of New German Cinema, and is widely considered to be one of Fassbinder's greatest works.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is a 1972 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 4 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.6 and a MetaScore of 73.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 4 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.6  (10,768)
  • Metascore