Petra is a successful fashion designer of women’s clothing, Petra-the beauty, Petra-the shining, Petra-the glamorous, Petra-the wise, Petra-the center of the universe, Petra-the everything, Petra – more than everything. Of course, we are not having a deal here with one-dimensional capricious/despotic queen from Hollywood movies. Petra, first of all, is gentle, modest, sensitive. This is the psychological “soil” of her immanent humility which she is not even conscious about. Petra is able to be “more than everything” in a sublime – real sense.

Karin, an unemployed attractive young woman desperately looking for success, appears, full of hopes, in Petra’s world. But how organically Petra’s fragile, subtile body blends with the stylistic excess of her semi-dress! Also, pay attention to Karin’s clothes, when she for the first time has been invited to Petra’s place as a guest – in a style of Amazon warrior. Her breasts and neck are, as if, armored, first against caresses, and second against suffocation. Again, we here are experiencing – Fassbinder’s film where symbolic meaning is preferred to a naturalistic one. Here, Karin’s defense of her neck and breasts is rather a hint at a warning than “material”, actual defense.

But why to start a business relationship by preparing to defend yourself? Many people start a new job without fighting predisposition. Probably, it’s either because some folks are not too sensitive to inequality or because they are ready to accept it for the sake of having a job, career and social success. Of course, in Fassbinder’s film even potential conflicts are coded from the beginning.

Petra tries to fascinate Karin with the multifaceted glamor of her personality without being conscious that Karin in her situation would agree to everything even if Petra were less irresistible. Anyway, Petra kept irradiating her aurora lights – for her it wasn’t something like calculative seduction, but in Karin’s presence she felt a kind of creative exuberance, inspiration to feel a taste for life.

With Karin Petra was smart, versatile, admirable, emotionally sophisticated, masterful, and adorable and – look at her right shoulder (with her arm on the footboard of her bed)

The master and the future disciple and protégé were closer and closer to a double deal with two Champaign bottles. In her offers Petra was generous but without losing her head.

For Petra the attractiveness of Karin as a certain type of femininity seems to have been her fruit-like plum-ness or berry-like excess of not yet spend fertility.

But what happened to Karin here? Why such a suffering on her face? And this after such a triumphant beginning of a Petra-Karin business collaboration, reciprocal creative efforts of an artist and model plus a more than satisfying personal relationship? Why Petra prostrated before Karin is trying to persuade her of her love while a little earlier there was no shadow of doubt about Karin’s success as a model and an equal partner in love?

Karin is going ahead with her obvious desire to hurt Petra. For what? For being too generous? For being too generous. For being an irresistible mentor? For being a master and enjoying it? Karin could find only one vulnerable point in Petra’s mighty self-image, and she decided to go after it with all the power she could muster. But how could this kind of ingratitude take place? Why? Karin is not envious and a vengeful person, she is very compassionate and tender. And Petra really cares about her, genuinely try hard to build her future.

Petra is really hurt, but she can afford to use the whole palette of her suffering “because of being so unjustly mistreated and treacherously betrayed”. In our time of “naked pursuit of social success” it’s, probably, the last luxury to sincerely suffer. Only a person who had triumph in life could lose it, and suffering can always remind about successful times.

Eventually Karin releases her main power (the trump card of Hannah Shygulla’s expressiveness) – her incredible – relaxed and disarming laughter, with which nature always defeats even the most extra-ordinary cultural achievements. This Karin’s laughter which always put Petra right in the middle of bliss from any worry, Karin uses again, and Petra again is ready to forget what’s happened. But it didn’t eliminate the basic problem.

Karin has left. And for Petra the only thing left is to wait for her return. She believed, that Karin’s return will happened.

Dem-3 Photo. Helene Jeanbrau © 1996 cine-tamaris.tif
To be completely under and in the hands of a master, even if these hands are gentle and caring and loving, but the kindness and love is like… charity, when everything is completely up to the master. Karin was fighting for her dignity – for being morally an equal partner in relationship. Karin and Petra must become allies in their fight with inequality in their own relationship. Their love should change – it supposed to be more respectful towards the one with less authority and initiative, towards the “junior member” of togetherness.

We, Americans today unexpectedly find ourselves very close to Karin’s problem in her relationship with Petra. The Republican majority’s recent Tax Bill gave chance to some billionaires to loudly boost about their intent to give the workers working for them generous money gifts. Neocon masters always preferred not to be obliged to take care of their employees if the law tells them to. They could like to help sometimes, not systematically and voluntarily, like charity because they like to be benefactors and hear gratitude for their kindness. But when the democratic government helps the needy, it is because they feel obliged to do this, and the reason they feel obliged is because they think that people who need help own this help in advance, that help belongs to those who need it. The more handouts the wealthy will sometimes throw to the workers, the unemployed, children or elderly and sick, the more inequality will grow in the country and the more will grow the proclivity of the poor to be idolatrous towards the rich (to treat them as super-humans).

Posted on 8/20/2015 – R. W. Fassbinder’s “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” (1972) – The Art And Science Of Amorous Domination (Feminine Touch In A World Of Masculine Competition) by Acting-Out Politics

Posted on 10/9/2015 – “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” (1972) by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (RWF) by Acting-Out Politics

posted on March/1/2009 – Film Review of “Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” (1972) by Rainer Werner Fassbinder by Acting-Out Politics