The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant
(German: Die Bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant
) is a 1972 German
film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
, based on his own play. This film has an all female cast and is set in the home of the protagonist
, Petra von Kant. It follows the changing dynamics in her relationships with some of the other women. It is a witty tragedy of lovesickness and one of Fassbinder’s most powerful plays and films.
Petra von Kant is a famous fashion designer whose marriages have ended in death and divorce. The first was a great love, the second began as that and ended in disgust. Petra lives with her assistant and reveals her sadistic
side to her in making codependent relationships. Through a friend Petra meets Karin, a desirable, ruthless 23-year-old girl. Petra persuades Karin to become a model and quickly falls madly in love with her. But Petra's obsessive love gets eventually rejected. Karin leaves Petra. Petra eats her own heart out. Turning over a new leaf, she talks to her assistant in the tender accents of love. But the assistant, who has satisfied her personal masochistic
desire by submitting to Petra, leaves her, too.
The text of the play, in its English translation by Denis Calandra, was employed by Gerald Barry
as the libretto for his five-act opera, commissioned by RTE
and English National Opera
and premiered in Dublin and London in 2005. The opera is also available on CD featuring the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra
The opera deals with her obsession, her rejection by Karin, and her disintegration.