The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant

1380 words - 6 pages

Have you ever loved somebody so much that you would give anything to be with them even if they didn’t even realize your existence? What lengths would you go to in order to keep them in your life? In the movie The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant directed by famous German film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, we explore the manipulation inherent in every relationship and the lengths to which people will go to stay with the ones they love.
The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is based on events in Fassbinder’s own love life. Fassbinder became infatuated actor Gunther Kaufmann who, according to film analyst Ryan Gilbey, “soon realized that the attentions of an increasingly wealthy young film-maker could, with the minimum of reciprocation, prove profitable for him.” Fassbinder showered Kaufmann with gifts, including four brand new Lamborghinis. However, Kaufmann did not return Fassbinder’s affection, which then inspired Fassbinder to create the autobiographical film The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. The film focuses on the love life of the successful fashion designer Petra von Kant. Petra is in the latter stages of mourning over the failure of her marriage to her husband. She lives alone with her live-in assistant Marlene, whom she treats terribly. Petra is more often than not seen barking orders at Marlene or taking out her frustrations on Marlene, while the latter takes everything in muted silence. As unstable as this dominion-based relationship seems, it seems to work for the both of them. The relationship between Petra and Marlene is a strange, albeit resolute, relationship. Petra is the dominant female, and Marlene is the devoted yet subservient assistant. Throughout the entire film, Marlene does not utter a single word. It almost seems at through she is trapped in a slave-like trance by Petra. No matter what is asked of her, Marlene takes everything in muted stride until young Karin moves in. From this point on, we see that Marlene is silently tormented by Petra’s love for Karin, while the love that she still holds for Petra goes unrequited. For example, while Petra is trying to seduce Karin, we hear Marlene in the background loudly typing on the typewriter to drown out their voices. After Petra asks Karin to move in, a single tear runs down Marlene’s face. Throughout the remainder of the film, Marlene is hesitant to leave Petra alone with Karin, but does so upon Petra’s insistence. Finally, at the end of the movie, after Karin leaves, Petra realizes how alone she truly is, and she attempts to get to know Marlene better. Marlene, shocked and taken aback by this display of kindness, promptly packs her things and leaves. Many critics believe that the small display of kindness displayed by Petra to Marlene is what drove Marlene away. However, I believe that after witnessing the destructive relationship between Petra and Karin and its effects, Marlene finally found the strength to break free from Petra. Petra’s relationship with Marlene...

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