Rainer Werner Fassbinder
In the home of Petra von Kant, we see a melodramatic love triangle ensue as Petra adoringly invites Karin into her home, much to the despair of the former's assistant, Marlene. Fassbinder’s all female cast depicts the role control has in relationships, particularly those that are emotionally sadomasochistic. Elements of Bitter Tears have been compared to Fassbinder’s turbulent affair with Günther Kaufmann, which he admits brought him close to the edge, much like it does to Petra.
The film has since garnered immense respect from the fashion industry, for the way costume designer, Maja Lemcke communicates the moods of the women, specifically Petra, using beautiful costumes, make-up and wigs. In the opening scene, Petra is scene bare-faced, sans wig in a dressing gown, depicting her as hopeless and lonely. However, in the scene when she is seducing Karin, she is adorned in one of the most recognizable costumes of the entire epic. She wears a pale blue tulle skirt which is held together by an embroidered border that snakes its way up the body to create a revealing bodice, which is dripping in pearls and ruby red jewels, portraying her as a mysterious, exotic goddess.
The fur element, which is so prominent in most of the characters clothing, is said to have left an impression on Miuccia Prada, particularly in her Autumn/Winter 2014/15 collection, where models walked with fluffy shearling coats and sheer dresses down the runway.
The film is entirely overwhelming. From the striking sets and costumes to the volatile narrative, it’s a film that should be watched twice to be truly appreciated.
The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant
director RAINER WERNER FASSBINDER
director of photography MICHAEL BALLHAUS
cast MARGIT CARSTENSEN, HANNA SCHYGULLA, IRM HERMANN, KATRIN SCHAAKE and EVA MATTES
words PRIYESH PATEL
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