The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1972

Part Five Chapter 7

Saturday evenings at the cinema—The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant; Aguirre, Wrath of God; Rhomer’s L’Amour l’après-midi; Ludwig, by Luchino Visconti.

Hanna Schygulla as Karin Thimm, Margit Carstensen as Petra von Kant

Irm Hermann as Marlene


The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is a very important film because the viewer is bound to realize very quickly that it’s a camouflage. The part that Margit Carstensen plays is of course Fassbinder himself, and the part played by Hanna is actually Günther Kaufmann. The silent maid is Peer Raben. That’s how you have to see it. And Fassbinder wrapped all this up very cleverly in the whole cultural problem which he had with himself. He transposed it into the world of fashion, where this woman who is a famous fashion designer falls head over heels in love with someone. It’s a homosexual relationship, which nearly ruins her. We laughed a lot during filming, because we had heard all the lines in this film before. We had witnessed some of the scenes of jealousy in Fassbinder’s life, and sometimes we recognized things that had actually been said. These things had actually happened.

This is a film that is so artificial that it is timeless. It’s one of those films that cannot age. It’s so stylized, it’s incredible.


Source: Harry Baer on Rainer Werner Fassbinder. A Film by Robert Fischer, 2006. On the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation/Arrow Films DVD of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.