The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is a 1972 West German romantic drama film written and directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, based on his own play. Featuring an all-female cast, the plot takes place entirely in the home of narcissistic protagonist Petra von Kant, and follows the changing dynamics in her relationships with other women. Petra's story is told in a theatre-esque fashion in four acts, each depicting her state of mind hinted visually by her clothes and hair. The film was entered into the 22nd Berlin International Film Festival.


Petra von Kant (Carstensen) is a prominent fashion designer based in Bremen. The film is almost totally restricted to her apartment's bedroom, decorated by a huge reproduction of Poussin's Midas and Bacchus (c.1630), which depicts naked and partially clothed men and women. The room also contains numerous life-size mannequins for her work, though only her assistant Marlene (Hermann) is shown using them.