Rainer Werner Fassbinder Penelope Gilliatt - Essay

Penelope Gilliatt

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant"] is a lucid, beautiful work of innovation which hides its fondness for its characters under a cloak of august formalism. One remembers at the end that the dedication reads, "A case history of one who here became Marlene." Marlene is an apparently minor character who never speaks—of the six women in the film, she is the mute—but the story, in recall, is about the effect of its events on her sensibility. It is typical of the ricochet movement of Fassbinder's films that at the time we should regard her only as a witness. (p. 264)

There are fibre-glass figures and costume drawings everywhere in the working part of the room. We are watching a woman who is almost...

(The entire section is 596 words.)