The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is a 1972 West German film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, based on his own play. The film has an all-female cast, and it is set in the home of the narcissistic protagonist Petra von Kant. It follows the changing dynamics in her relationships with the other women. Petra's story is told in a theater-like fashion in four different acts, each depicting the states of mind of the main character 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.