Die bitteren Tranen der Petra von Kant / The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972) 2 x DVD9, Blu-Ray Criterion Collection
Based on Fassbinder's original play, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is a work of astonishing visual design, with emotions on an operatic scale, which explores the tortured connections between desire and power.
It unfolds in five scenes, each of which progresses in continuous time, the story of Petra von Kant (Margit Carstensen), a successful but arrogant fashion designer in her mid-30s who falls passionately in love with Karin (Hanna Schygulla), a beautiful, cunning young woman who wants a career in modeling. Watching over everything, but never uttering a single word, is the enigmatic Marlene (Irm Hermann), the slavish secretary, maid, and co-designer, whom Petra takes every opportunity to humiliate. After Petra and Karin seal their newfound relationship with a torrid kiss, the film jumps ahead six months to show us their breakup (Karin goes back to her husband) and, for Petra, its devastating aftermath. We meet Petra's daughter Gaby (Eva Mattes) and mother (Gisela Fackeldey), again see her catty friend Sidonie (Katrin Schaake), and discover the new direction of her relationship with Marlene.
Although this remains one of Fassbinder's most controversial films – in part for its severely limited depiction of lesbian (more accurately, bisexual women's) lives – it is also one of his most powerful, for both its volcanic emotional force and the unparalleled visual imagination it displays.

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Cast: Margit Carstensen, Hanna Schygulla, Katrin Schaake
Country: West Germany
Genre: Drama


Outsiders - in this new documentary film, actors Hanna Schygulla (Karin Thimm), Margit Carstensen (Petra von Kant), Eva Mattes (Gabriele von Kant), and Katrin Schaake (Sidonie von Grasenabb) discuss their contributions to The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, the film's visual style (and specifically its theatrical qualities and Michael Ballhaus' lensing), the relationships between the main characters and the film's message, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's directing methods and the group of actors he felt most comfortable working with (the Anti-Theater troupe), the German director's relationship with Gunther Kaufmann (who was Karin Thimm's model in real life), etc. The documentary film was produced by Criterion in 2014. In German and English, with optional English subtitles where necessary. (31 min).

Michael Ballhaus - in this new video interview, cinematographer Michael Ballhaus discusses his professional relationship with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, which began with Whity, the German director's admiration for Douglas Sirk's work, and some of the unique challenges he faced during the shooting of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. The interview was conducted exclusively for Criterion in Berlin in 2014. In English, not subtitled. (8 min).

Jane Shattuc - in this new video interview, Jane Shattuc, professor of visual and media arts at Emerson College and author of Television, Tabloids, and Tears: Fassbinder and Popular Culture, discusses Rainer Werner Fassbinder's fascinating relationship with the actors from the Anti-Theater troupe, his treatment of women in front and behind the camera, the Brechtian qualities of his films, his admiration for Douglas Sirk's melodramas, the victims and victimizers in The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, etc. The interview was conducted exclusively for Criterion in September 2014. In English, not subtitled. (24 min).

Role Play: Women on R. W. Fassbinder - presented here is an archival documentary film which was produced by Thomas Honickel for German television in 1992. Actors Hanna Schygulla, Irm Hermann, Margit Carstensen, and Rosel Zech discuss their complex personal and professional relationships with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the manner in which he frequently provoked some of them, how during the shooting of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant occasionally the line that separated the personalities of the women they played from their own was blurred, the German director's fondness for Hollywood cinema and strong female stars (Barbara Stanwyck and Bette Davis), the difficult relationship he had with his mother, his romantic life, etc. In German, with optional English subtitles. (59 min).

2 x DVD9 | NTSC 4:3 | 02:04:36 | 7.61 Gb + 7.26 Gb + 3% rec
Language: Deutsch
Subtitles: English

BD50 | 1080p AVC | 02:04:36 | 44.3 Gb + 3% rec
Language: Deutsch
Subtitles: English

Related posts:

  1. The Early Works of Rainer Werner Fassbinder: Katzelmacher (1969), Liebe ist kalter als der Tod / Love Is Colder Than Death (1969), Der Stadtstreicher / The City Tramp (1966), Das kleine Chaos / The Little Chaos (1966), Ende einer Kommune? / End of the Commune? (1970) Blu-Ray Arrow Academy – The Rainer Werner Fassbinder Collection
  2. Riso amaro / Bitter Rice (1949), Giuseppe De Santis (2008) DVD9 and Blu-Ray Criterion Collection
  3. Faustrecht der Freiheit / Fist-Fight of Freedom / Fox and His Friends (1975) DVD9 and Blu-Ray Criterion Collection
  4. Bloed, Zweet & Tranen / Blood, Sweat & Tears (2015) DVD9
  5. Fellini’s Roma (1972) DVD9 and Blu-Ray Criterion Collection