Irish Film Institute -Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, The

Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, The

Director: Rainer-Werner Fassbinder

W. Germany| 1972. English subtitles. Colour. 124 mins.

Petra von Kant (Margit Carstensen), a successful fashion designer, conducts a sado-masochistic relationship with her assistant Marlene
(Irm Hermann) until the arrival of Karin (Hanna Schygulla), with whom Petra has a tempestuous love affair. With this masterpiece Fassbinder succeeded in adapting a Hollywood form-the ‘woman’s film’-to provide his own particular take on the currents of dominance and submission that lie beneath the surface of all human relationships. There’s an early reference to Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the plot of whose classic All About Eve is mirrored in Fassbinder’s almost equally wordy portrait of emotional one-upmanship played out in a highly theatrical setting. Fassbinder also begins to turn on the style here, filming in long, elegant takes that provide a certain critical distance from the hot-house atmosphere and emotions.

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