The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant 12 S

Seduced by Cinema: Peter Strickland and the Scala


Please note: This was screened in June 2019

Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Margit Carstensen, Hanna Schygulla, Katrin Schaake
124 mins, Subtitled, 1972, Germany
Primary language:

Follow Rainer Werner Fassbinder down a rabbit hole of power and control in this unforgettable, unforgiving dissection of an imbalanced relationship between a haughty fashion designer and a beautiful but icy ingénue.

Petra von Kant (Margit Carstensen), a successful fashion designer, is engaged in a S&M relationship with her secretary Marlene (Irm Hermann). Whilst being the older of the couple, Petra finds herself inexplicably drawn to her newest model Karin (Hanna Schygulla), and infatuation soon turns to obsession against a backdrop of haute couture.

A film of rich contrasts, from the dream-like pacing to the intensity of fashion and obsession playing out between the three women, it’s cited by Peter Strickland as a direct influence on his film The Duke of Burgundy. Which makes perfect sense once you’ve experienced Fassbinder’s film and all its berserk, angry, funny and exhausting analysis of sado-masochistic power games masquerading as loving relationships.