26 user 58 critic

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)

Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 5 October 1972 (West Germany)
An arrogant fashion designer falls in love with an icy beauty who wants to be a model.


(play), (screenplay)

Watch Now

From $3.99 (HD) on Amazon Video

3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A World War II widow seeks to adjust to life in postwar Germany.

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Hanna Schygulla, Klaus Löwitsch, Ivan Desny
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

An almost accidental romance is kindled between a German woman in her mid-sixties and a Moroccan migrant worker around twenty-five years younger. They abruptly decide to marry, appalling everyone around them.

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Brigitte Mira, El Hedi ben Salem, Barbara Valentin
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Hans Epp is a self-destructive man who lives a dissatisfied life. He tries to find meaning as a fruit vendor, but a heart attack impedes his ability to work, which turns his dissatisfaction into despair.

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Hans Hirschmüller, Irm Hermann, Hanna Schygulla
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Working class and middle-upper class worlds come together in this interesting look at class conflict within the gay world from the German director Reiner Werner Fassbinder. Fassbinder plays... See full summary »

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Peter Chatel, Karlheinz Böhm
Veronika Voss (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A washed up UFA actress, kept by her doctor, raises suspicion in a sports journalist.

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Rosel Zech, Hilmar Thate, Cornelia Froboess
Lili Marleen (1981)
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In Switzerland German singer 'Willie' falls in love with Jewish composer 'Robert' who offers resistance to the Nazis by helping refugees. But his family thinks that 'Willie' is also a Nazi ... See full summary »

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Hanna Schygulla, Giancarlo Giannini, Mel Ferrer
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Both the parents of a young teen who walks with crutches, goes on each their secret meeting with lovers, both surprising each other at the family's county home. The daughter arrives and initiates a guessing game of "Chinese roulette".

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Anna Karina, Margit Carstensen, Brigitte Mira
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

On a film set there are two things missing, the film material and the director. So the actors and actresses as well as the crew try to make the best out of the situation. When the director ... See full summary »

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Lou Castel, Eddie Constantine, Marquard Bohm
Lola (1981)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

In post-war West Germany, the charming Von Bohm is appointed a city's new Building Commissioner. His morality is tested when he unknowingly falls in love with a brothel worker, Lola, the paid mistress of a corrupt property developer.

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Barbara Sukowa, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Mario Adorf
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

This drama follows the last few days in the life of Elvira (formerly Erwin) Weisshaupt. Years before, Erwin told a co-worker, Anton, that he loved him. "Too bad, you aren't a woman," he ... See full summary »

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Volker Spengler, Ingrid Caven, Gottfried John
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Frau Kusters is preparing dinner late one seemingly ordinary afternoon in her seemingly ordinary kitchen in Frankfurt, Germany. Mrs. Kusters wants to add canned sausages to the stew, her ... See full summary »

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Brigitte Mira, Ingrid Caven, Margit Carstensen
Katzelmacher (1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Jorgos, a migrant worker from Greece, joins a group of young people in Munich usually hanging around. This foreigner incites hostility and jealousy among them, and he is insulted as a "... See full summary »

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Hanna Schygulla, Lilith Ungerer, Rudolf Waldemar Brem


Complete credited cast:
Eva Mattes ...
Gisela Fackeldey ...


Petra von Kant is a successful fashion designer -- arrogant, caustic, and self-satisfied. She mistreats Marlene (her secretary, maid, and co-designer). Enter Karin, a 23-year-old beauty who wants to be a model. Petra falls in love with Karin and invites her to move in. The rest of the film deals with the emotions of this affair and its aftermath. Fassbinder tells his story in a series of 5 or 6 long scenes with extended uses of a single camera shot and deep focus. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Sex is the ultimate weapon.


Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

5 October 1972 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant  »

Box Office


DEM 325,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The painting covering the wall in Petra's apartment is a gigantic blowup of Nicolas Poussin's 1629 painting "Midas and Bacchus" . See more »


Petra von Kant: Where were you last night?
Karin Thimm: I went dancing.
Petra von Kant: Till 6 in the morning?
Karin Thimm: What about it?
Petra von Kant: They're not open that long.
Karin Thimm: No?
Petra von Kant: No.
Petra von Kant: Who did you go "dancing" with?
Karin Thimm: What?
Petra von Kant: Tell me who you went dancing with?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Gewidmet dem, der hier Marlene wurde. (Dedicated to the one who became Marlene here) See more »


Remade as The Politics of Fur (2002) See more »


In My Room
Written by Lee Pockriss and Paul Vance
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Lipstick Lesbians - a love story {Rainer Werner Fassbinder}
2 August 2011 | by (Planet Earth) – See all my reviews

This movie is reputedly an autobiographical fictionalization of Fassbinder's own "menage" between himself, his lover, and his secretary. While the homosexuality is retained the gender is transformed to female.

Petra von Kant, is, like Fassbinder a product of upper middle class circumstances. She is artistic and ambitious. She is a rising force in the German Fashion "couture" and the movie opens with a bibulous Petra waking up late, and behaving in a superior and demanding manner towards her submissive and obedient secretary/design assistant/maid, the long suffering Marlene. Petra's selfish and narcissistic character is thus immediately established. The viewer is left in no doubt concerning her sybaritic, pampered demanding nature.

The next scene features a visit from her friend the Baroness Sidonie, whom she hasn't seen in years. The talk is focused on Petra,s failed marriage and Sidonie's curiosity about the underlying reasons for its failure. Petra claims that her husband resented her success and could not chauvinistically come to terms with her financial dominance. At no time does she refer to sexual orientation and gender preference as factors.

Enter the Baroness's young and beautiful friend Karin. Immediately Petra becomes interested and seductively attracted towards her. In classic bourgeois style, she flatters and tempts the impoverished Karin with her wealth and connections {"I'll make you my model"}. Karin, a heterosexual embraces bisexuality and embarks on an affair with Petra.In the background throughout the entire movie Poussin's "Midas and Bacchus" reproduced as a backdrop against an entire wall looms symbolically over the unfolding drama.

We are now moved on in time. Petra is now hopelessly infatuated with Karin, who, although she is affectionate towards Petra, her heterosexuality precludes her reciprocating. What Petra desires is a grand passion, which,like a moth being drawn to a flame is then consumed by it. The requited love that Petra insists upon, remains unsatisfied. The situation comes to a head when Karin's husband returns and Karin walks out of her relationship with Petra and rejoins him.

We now have the core of this tale as Petra fragments in agonistic convulsion. A fantastic sequence of humiliation and degradation, emotionally convincing, is magnificently pulled off by Margarit Carstensen who plays Petra and also by Fassbinder's tight direction. The scene takes place on a shaggy long piled white carpet,{fashionable in the 70's} a bare room and the backdrop painting. An utterly masterful and absorbing display of emotion at the edge. Phew, what an affective scene, leaving the viewer quite exhausted. After the catharsis of all the "descent into hell", Petra recovers, seemingly cured of the "mad love", and supposedly, through the pain and suffering, she now offers her long suffering slave cum assistant, a new relationship - her freedom from servitude, and from now on a partnership of equality. This political resolution was taken by this particular viewer {that is, myself} with a pinch of salt, as I find it highly optimistic on Fassbinder's part, that Petra would so easily embrace a new persona

There is very little action in this movie but the authenticity is riveting. Sure, it's an Art Movie, stagey, with the dialogue telling most of the story, but it's a great movie nevertheless.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page