Blu-ray, DVD: The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: Jan. 13, 2015
Price: DVD $29.95, Blu-ray $39.95
Studio: Criterion

In the early 1970s, Rainer Werner Fassbinder (I Only Want You To Love Me) discovered the American melodrama movies of Douglas Sirk (All That Heaven Allows) and was inspired by them to begin working in a new, more intensely emotional register.

The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant movie scene

Margit Carstensen (l.) and Hanna Schygulla in The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

One of the earliest and best-loved films of this period in Fassbinder’s career is the 1972 drama The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, which balances a realistic depiction of tormented romance with staging that remains true to the director’s roots in experimental theater.

This unforgettable, unforgiving dissection of the imbalanced relationship between a haughty fashion designer (Margit Carstensen) and a beautiful but icy ingenue (Hanna Schygulla, Gods of the Plague)—based, in a sly gender reversal, on the writer-director’s own desperate obsession with a young actor—is a fully Fassbinder affair, featuring exquisitely claustrophobic cinematography by Michael Ballhaus (The Last Temptation of Christ) and full-throttle performances by an all-female cast.

Criterion’s DVD and Blu-ray editions of Fassbinder’s film contain the following:

• New 4K digital restoration, supervised by director of photography Michael Ballhaus, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New interviews with Ballhaus and actors Margit Carstensen, Eva Mattes, Katrin Schaake, and Hanna Schygulla
• New interview with film scholar Jane Shattuc about director Rainer Werner Fassbinder and the film
• Role Play: Women on Fassbinder, a 1992 German television documentary by Thomas Honickel featuring interviews with Carstensen, Schygulla, and actors Irm Hermann and Rosel Zech
• New English subtitle translation
• An essay by critic Peter Matthews


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.