Tuesday, March 5, 2019


The Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kant
Just let me say that the films of Rainer Warner Fassbinder are challenging to watch. 

The Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kant features a successful fashion designer (Petra) who becomes involved in an obsessive relationship with a younger woman named Karin. The romance between between the two quickly becomes one-sided and much of the second half of the movie features Petra's anguish at the end of this relationship. But all of Petra's relationships are difficult or strange. Her live-in maid Marlene, who almost never speaks, is treated by Petra like a slave. Petra's relationship with her teenage daughter (who she rarely sees) is extremely contentious. She also has a breakdown in front of other members of her family.

The movie is very dialogue heavy, as it is based on Fassbinder's play of the same name. It's bizarre at times to look at with Petra's constant changing of clothes (and wigs) as well as the nude wallpaper lining her wall. I love the final scene when Petra finally tries to relate to Marlene, but Marlene responds by slowly packing her things to leave.

Fassbinder  in Fox and His Friends
Fox and His Friends is a movie about class. Fox (played by Fassbinder) is a working class gay man who works in a carnival and never has any money. That is until he wins the lottery. He then becomes involved with an upper class businessman named Eugin. Their relationship is complex. Eugin wouldn't be interested in the working class Fox if not for his newly found wealth. However, it doesn't seem cut and dried in that Eugin is overtly using him, but their romance is obviously going to be doomed when Fox inevitably loses his money.

It also interesting that this film is a study in class and not about homosexuality. The families of Fox and Eugin don't seem to give a second thought to the fact that they are in a openly gay relationship (Remember, this is 1975) but the class differences between upper class Eugin and the hard-edged and unrefined Fox seems to be emphasized in every scene. The ending of this film is also effective (and depressing) with Fox lying dead of an overdose in the subway and schoolboys stealing his valuables. When people Fox is acquainted with come across his dead body, they flee to avoid getting involved.

The ending of Fox and His Friends is especially prescient in that it foreshadows Fassbinder's own death from an overdose in 1982.


  1. I find Fassbinder's films very interesting. I've seen both of these and four or five others. The only one I really LOVE is Veronika Voss.

    1. Yes. They are very worthy viewing. I haven't seen Veronika Voss or Marriage of Maria Braun, but I plan to get to them soon.