The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant


"The set and costume design and the hothouse atmosphere represent so much high-camp gloss; but once again this careful stylisation enables Fassbinder to balance between parody of an emotional stance and intense commitment to it." -Tony Rayns, Time Out

"Rainer Werner Fassbinder's most harshly stylized and perhaps most significant film." -Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

"The best movie on role playing, power, and human suffering that I have seen in a long time." -Karla Jay, The Lesbian Tide

The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
West Germany
125 minutes

In the early 1970s, Rainer Werner Fassbinder discovered the American melodramas of Douglas Sirk and was inspired by them to begin working in a new, more intensely emotional register. One of the first and best-loved films of this period in his career is The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, which balances a realistic depiction of tormented romance with staging that remains true to the director’s roots in experimental theater. This unforgettable, unforgiving dissection of the imbalanced relationship between a haughty fashion designer (Margit Carstensen) and a beautiful but icy ingenue (Hanna Schygulla)—based, in a sly gender reversal, on the writer-director’s own desperate obsession with a young actor—is a true Fassbinder affair, featuring exquisitely claustrophobic cinematography by Michael Ballhaus and full-throttle performances by an all-female cast.

Special Admission

$8 tickets available in advance online and at the door.