740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

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hearthesilence
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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#26 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:35 am

R0lf wrote:I presume the negative comments regarding Maria are due to melodrama not being considered a "serious" genre worthy of higher praise?

So much of his work is melodrama. I don't think the naysayers have anything against that genre, they just don't think that particular film is a masterpiece or one of Fassbinder's best works.

And I will concur with the praise for Veronika Voss, which to me is the masterpiece of the BRD films.

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barryconvex
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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#27 Post by barryconvex » Fri Oct 17, 2014 3:09 pm

Jailbait will never happen.
Why? i've heard stories about the author of the screenplay blocking the movie but thought they were apocryphal...then again if the movie's that hard to see maybe those stories are true...

Raymond Marble
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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#28 Post by Raymond Marble » Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:48 pm

It just occurred to me that I'm going to want to hold onto my old Wellspring disc of this even when the Criterion blu-ray is released, because it looks like Criterion's not replicating the bonus addition of the short films "The Little Chaos" and "The City Tramp" on this edition, which shorts are much beloved by me (despite my tendency to accidentally call them "The Little Tramp" and "The City Chaos").

pet42
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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#29 Post by pet42 » Sat Oct 18, 2014 2:28 pm

domino harvey wrote:...
New 4K digital restoration, supervised by director of photography Michael Ballhaus, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray...
Well, Michael Ballhaus has glaucoma/green star and can not even read anymore.
He talks about this and Fassbinder at the begin of this short german interview from March:
http://www1.wdr.de/fernsehen/aks/rubrik ... ize-L.html

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Telstar
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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#30 Post by Telstar » Sat Oct 18, 2014 5:14 pm

Raymond Marble wrote:It just occurred to me that I'm going to want to hold onto my old Wellspring disc of this even when the Criterion blu-ray is released, because it looks like Criterion's not replicating the bonus addition of the short films "The Little Chaos" and "The City Tramp" on this edition, which shorts are much beloved by me (despite my tendency to accidentally call them "The Little Tramp" and "The City Chaos").
Is Criterion keeping the commentary track from the Wellspring disc? Haven't listened to it in ages, but I seem to remember it as being pretty solid.

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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#31 Post by Raymond Marble » Sun Oct 19, 2014 1:08 am

Telstar wrote:Is Criterion keeping the commentary track from the Wellspring disc? Haven't listened to it in ages, but I seem to remember it as being pretty solid.
It looks like they aren't (?), though commentator Jane Shattuck is involved in one of the new features.

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EddieLarkin
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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#32 Post by EddieLarkin » Thu Jan 01, 2015 12:10 am

Top marks across the board at Blu-ray.com

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Lost Highway
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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#33 Post by Lost Highway » Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:26 pm

R0lf wrote:I presume the negative comments regarding Maria are due to melodrama not being considered a "serious" genre worthy of higher praise?
Most of Fassbinder's films were melodramas. I'm one of those who never understood why Maria Braun was his breakthrough film, the one which made him internationally famous. It's a good film, but far from his best and the inexpressive Hanna Schygulla never was my favourite of his leading ladies either.

I agree with the comments on Veronika Voss, by far the best of the BRD trilogy and of his later films.

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D50
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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#34 Post by D50 » Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:13 am

This just showed up on the top of my Netflix saved titles queue with a 1/12/2015 release date. I'll move it to the top so I can see it. Boyhood dvd just shipped yesterday and I'll get it today, 1/6/2015, the dvd / Netflix dvd release date.

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swo17
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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#35 Post by swo17 » Tue Jan 06, 2015 12:14 pm

Just make sure you return Boyhood on 1/9/2015 or 1/10/2015 so you can get Petra Von Kant on the dvd / Netflix dvd release date.

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D50
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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#36 Post by D50 » Tue Jan 06, 2015 12:53 pm

swo17 wrote:Just make sure you return Boyhood on 1/9/2015 or 1/10/2015 so you can get Petra Von Kant on the dvd / Netflix dvd release date.
I rarely hold onto a disc more than a day. When I wasn't working, which seems like yesterday, I would watch each film around 1-2pm, have more than enough time to return it in that day's mail, with a drive to the drive through drop off which has a 6pm last pick up time. Since Netflix somehow got a scanner into the hands of the USPS workers, and if I do my part and make sure the bar code in the sleeve shows in the window of the return envelope, they show each return as received the next day, and ship my next disc and I'll get that the next day. Pretty good system, 1 day delivery - barring Friday returns, since they stopped Saturday processing and mailing, and holidays throw a wrench into the rotation.

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zedz
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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#37 Post by zedz » Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:55 pm

D50 wrote:
swo17 wrote:Just make sure you return Boyhood on 1/9/2015 or 1/10/2015 so you can get Petra Von Kant on the dvd / Netflix dvd release date.
I rarely hold onto a disc more than a day. When I wasn't working, which seems like yesterday, I would watch each film around 1-2pm, have more than enough time to return it in that day's mail, with a drive to the drive through drop off which has a 6pm last pick up time. Since Netflix somehow got a scanner into the hands of the USPS workers, and if I do my part and make sure the bar code in the sleeve shows in the window of the return envelope, they show each return as received the next day, and ship my next disc and I'll get that the next day. Pretty good system, 1 day delivery - barring Friday returns, since they stopped Saturday processing and mailing, and holidays throw a wrench into the rotation.
Well, that went well, don't you think, swo?

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swo17
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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#38 Post by swo17 » Tue Jan 06, 2015 4:01 pm

I guess we'll find out just how well it went on 1/13/2015.

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zedz
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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#39 Post by zedz » Tue Jan 06, 2015 4:34 pm

swo17 wrote:I guess we'll find out just how well it went on 1/13/2015.
Now marked in my diary.


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knives
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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#41 Post by knives » Wed Jun 10, 2015 11:22 pm

Watching this made me a bit curious if Fassbinder or Ballhaus ever spoke in depth about aspect ratios. I have to imagine that finances and television as much as anything else compelled him so often to shoot in academy, but his films seem so dependent on it artistically, here for instance there's an early shot like a photo framing Carstensen between some shelves and mannequins that feels subservient to the ratio, that even the few tall widescreen films he made become an interesting evolution.

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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#42 Post by dadaistnun » Mon May 06, 2019 3:44 pm

When this was over, I felt like I'd seen one of my favorite films ever. I've calmed down a bit since, though I'm unapologetic for having such a reaction. A film like this seems to demand it. Gloriously intense - reading reviews afterwards, I see Luc Sante likens it to having been in a fistfight with yourself - seems about right. This is a brutal film, yet not without humor (the gag with the ringing phone where it seems like we might finally hear Marlene speak, only to have Petra pick it up instead) or ecstatic cinematic highs (the Walker Brothers scene).

Cast is great, so completely in tune with one another, but Margit Carstensen is def the ace. Shooting the entire film in one confined space (and to think it was a real location, not a set) was probably a headache, but it pays real dividends with a sense of real spacial dimension.

That final scene manages to add so much to the story by doing so little.
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Marlene, packing her bag (and I love the way she goes back and forth in and out of the frame as she does this), the little pause as she drops the pistol: she could be saying, "I could still shoot her if I want.' Or maybe she wants Petra sees the gun, as if to say, "You're lucking things are ending this way and not more violently."

Plus, this is my goddamn Walker Brothers record, and I'm taking it with me!

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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#43 Post by ari101 » Mon May 06, 2019 6:16 pm

dadaistnun wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 3:44 pm
When this was over, I felt like I'd seen one of my favorite films ever.
Have you seen In a Year of 13 Moons? Pinnacle Fassbinder IMO.

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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#44 Post by dadaistnun » Mon May 06, 2019 8:26 pm

Not yet, though I look forward to it - definitely have the Fassbinder bug now. I watched Chinese Roulette and Fear of Fear over the last couple of days and really dug them both, especially the latter.

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DRW.mov
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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#45 Post by DRW.mov » Mon May 06, 2019 8:33 pm

If you liked Bitter Tears and Fear of Fear, you owe it to yourself to see, not only 13 Moons, but also Martha. It’s his most quintessential melodrama.

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domino harvey
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Re: 740 The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

#46 Post by domino harvey » Mon May 06, 2019 8:36 pm

If they (fleetingly?) think this is one of the best films they’ve ever seen, they should obviously watch as many other Fassbinders as they can. No need to be specific in the face of that strong a reaction

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Mr Sausage
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The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1972)

#47 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Sep 20, 2021 7:45 am

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Re: The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1972)

#48 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Sep 20, 2021 10:39 am

While this is not at the top of my Fassbinder list, as I know it is for many others (perhaps not here, but it charts high on various ranked lists), it has one of his very best endings. Marlene's cheeky exit to The Platters following Petra's (desperately self-seeking) declaration of empathy is, in a sense, deeply ironic given that this marker of 'growth' for Petra eliminates her last remaining social resource. However, underneath the superficially absurdist joke, Fassbinder hits on a vulnerable truth about relationship dynamics that is completely sincere: That these kinetics, no matter how imbalanced or how painfully consequential they can be for one party vs other, are always serving both parties in some way. This is a challenging truth for many people to stomach (and in no way am I saying that, for instance, the victim/survivor in a domestic violent relationship is getting something "good" from staying in it, but the act of staying 'in' is still serving a part of that person's psychological comfortability) and I understand that Marlene may appear to be much more conscious of this dom/sub relationship by her repulsion and exit in the end, but I'm not so sure. When these dynamics are cemented, and then the power switches, or the assertive party requires that emotional caretaking in showing sensitivity, that can trigger this kind of response in many. For example, when an active drug addict in a long-term romantic relationship gets sober, often times those relationships end- which may seem odd because the loudest "problem" is gone, but the alteration of roles and expectations, once established, can disintegrate a union that at least had familiarity dealing with the intense problems at hand for so long. Per usual, Fassbinder's transparent experience engaging in obsessive and compulsive relationship roles has led him to a bitter end- one that acknowledges that cruelty can be an asset, and that being "the best version of yourself" - especially one influenced by societal expectations - may not be good enough, or may even be opposing that definition for those closest to you. Ah, subjectivity wins again.

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Re: The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1972)

#49 Post by knives » Mon Sep 20, 2021 3:28 pm

I was about to say that despite its importance in his canon my lone view left me with something to desire, though I also found his other explicitly gay drama I’ve seen, Fox, to be wanting as well.

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Re: The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1972)

#50 Post by Sloper » Fri Sep 24, 2021 9:53 am

therewillbeblus wrote:While this is not at the top of my Fassbinder list, as I know it is for many others (perhaps not here, but it charts high on various ranked lists), it has one of his very best endings. Marlene's cheeky exit to The Platters following Petra's (desperately self-seeking) declaration of empathy is, in a sense, deeply ironic given that this marker of 'growth' for Petra eliminates her last remaining social resource. However, underneath the superficially absurdist joke, Fassbinder hits on a vulnerable truth about relationship dynamics that is completely sincere: That these kinetics, no matter how imbalanced or how painfully consequential they can be for one party vs other, are always serving both parties in some way.
Very interesting comments on the ending, and the dynamic between Petra and Marlene. I love this film, but it took me until those final moments to realise I loved it, I think because the ending reveals how cleverly the rest of the film has been playing with our sense of perspective. In this ‘case history’ of Petra von Kant, Marlene’s and Karin’s points of view are no less important than Petra’s, and we’re constantly challenged to consider how different this situation must appear to them.

Early on in the first act, there’s a moment where we see Marlene leaning against the frosted glass, fixed in a pose suggestive of operatic, yearning agony as she listens to Petra and Sidonie – and then we cut back to the bed as Petra orders Marlene to fetch some coffee, with Marlene now invisible, ‘behind the scenes’ but forever on call. In the second act, we begin by focusing on Marlene’s typing, ensuring that we are constantly aware of her labour (very audible but completely ignored) throughout the ensuing action, although we have no idea what she is typing. The camera then tracks across the room as she fulfils another of Petra’s orders, but we remain at this servile worm’s-eye level and only see the women’s legs as Marlene helps Petra put the finishing touches on her would-be seductive costume. Then the camera follows Marlene back to the typewriter. Later, we see Marlene out of focus in a mirror during Petra’s conversation with Karin, and then there’s a dramatic cut to an in-focus shot of Marlene standing in the doorway – and we’re back to her perspective, the camera repeating those earlier movements and reminding us of this other ‘layer’ that Marlene inhabits.

Similarly, with Karin, we come to feel that this claustrophobic space is really a number of very different spaces: the bed upon which she reads her magazine, the patch of floor where she dances (her body temporarily obscuring Marlene, still typing away in the background), the painting against which she stands (and the various body parts or animals that she’s framed alongside), the light filtered by the Venetian blinds, or even Petra herself in those moments when Karin is close to her – all of these spaces mean something different when Karin inhabits them. There are some really powerful shots of Karin’s face, especially during the climactic argument in Act 3, which make it impossible for us to see her as reductively as Petra does (either as an idealised innocent or a scheming manipulator) because Schygulla’s acting is so richly nuanced. If we’re thinking about perspective, it’s telling that when Petra first meets Karin, for a while she seems unable to look at her. Again and again, the film asks us to think about what we and the characters are seeing, choosing not to see, or seeing and not understanding.

This reminds me very strongly of Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard, both of which feature a central triangle in which all three perspectives are radically different but (I think) equally important and valid. When Norma drops her fascinator on the dancefloor, she doesn’t seem to think about who will pick it up; but we see Max’s perspective, eyes lowered towards the floor, bending to retrieve and then dust off the discarded object; and later we might come to realise that Norma wasn’t so oblivious to his presence and feelings after all. How would Max respond if Norma were to suddenly become more considerate towards him? And who really holds the power in this relationship? Marlene’s surprise reveal of the gun at the end of Petra also reminded me of Phyllis Dietrichson posing briefly with her revolver before dropping it under the seat cushion (‘she had plans of her own’), and of the subsequent revelations about how she and Walter really feel about each other.

There’s an even more resonant parallel with The Reckless Moment, in which Ophüls subtly uses camera movement and shot composition to make us aware of Sybil (the maid) and her growing awareness of her mistress’s predicament. It’s obviously a very different dynamic, but there is something Fassbinder-ish about the fact that only Sybil, the most subordinate and disempowered character in the film, can see how Lucia is oppressed by the bourgeois structures around her: the demanding family, the domestic chores, the finances over which she has no control; and the sudden intrusion of the criminal underworld that throws all this into relief.

In Beware of a Holy Whore, there’s a movement from
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seeing things from a diffuse, un-focused perspective, but with a sense of continuous and coherent action (and with Jeff, the director, noticeably absent)…to the final act where we see things only from Jeff’s point of view, and the film disintegrates into a series of narratively incoherent fragments. This final act represents how Jeff experiences life. He is making some sort of (presumably coherent) film with a keen awareness of ‘time’, but in the process he turns his own life into a sort of time-less mess. The film itself will be a masterpiece, and will connect with audiences, but to achieve this Jeff has to abuse and alienate everyone around him. The final epigraph from Thomas Mann underlines the (rather self-pitying) message that an artist has to renounce life in order to make great works of art about life.
With Petra von Kant, we have another kind of artist, and this time one who focuses specifically on surfaces, on outer adornments. On one wall of her bedroom, presumably at great expense, she has reproduced a painting of Midas pleading with Bacchus to take away his gift of the ‘golden touch’: Midas can turn anything he touches to gold, but by the same token he cannot have any kind of relationship with anything or anyone. Petra’s success as a fashion designer enables her to support her family, hire a live-in maid, and nurture a protégée/lover; but by the same token, she ends up regarding her family as parasites, her maid will only stay as long as Petra behaves like an abusive monster towards her, and the protégée’s love will only last until she achieves a certain level of success.

The film seems to picture this as a condition, not just of a wealthy person, but specifically of a successful artist. There is something about the nature of Petra’s art that dovetails with the particular kind of hell she finds herself in. Where Karin looks healthy, relaxed, and confident, Petra is gaunt, drowning in her over-elaborate costumes and wigs, appearing faint and light-headed and constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown – never more so than when she puts on one of her chilling ventriloquist-dummy smiles and her eyes roll in her head as she utters some passive-aggressive comment through clenched teeth.

One of the most powerful shots in the film is when Karin asks Petra whether she wants to be lied to, and the close-up of Petra makes her look eerily like a mannequin. A single tear rolls down her waxen face as she says that yes, she does want Karin to lie to her. The moment encapsulates so much about Petra. She has become like one of the mannequins that populate her home – notice how she creepily rearranges them into suggestive postures during the act-breaks, as if they are imaginary friends, or imaginary versions of herself, Karin, and Marlene (two mannequins making love in bed with a third standing over them and watching) – and now asks Karin to be a kind of automaton, someone who will mindlessly present the loving façade that Petra wants to see, regardless of her inner feelings. Karin then lies, as requested, and Petra seems to believe it, smiling joyfully as she says ‘that isn’t true’ (wanting Karin to re-affirm the lie); but Karin then admits that of course it isn’t true, and Petra’s smile crumbles. Both characters are play-acting and both are earnestly expressing their feelings, in different ways and at different moments.

In the final scene, too, there is no simple (or single) answer to the question of why Petra plays ‘The Great Pretender’ while Marlene abandons her. The song is about Petra herself, but it is also about Marlene; it is each of them making a statement about herself, and each of them levelling an accusation at the other. To make things even more brain-meltingly complex, it is also a pointedly untrue song, because this is the moment when both women drop their pretences and show their true selves (which, after all, is what the speaker in the song is paradoxically doing: ‘I seem to be what I’m not, you see’).

Marlene isn’t cowering or hesitating or staring longingly at Petra anymore: she strides confidently in and out of frame, fetching her things from that marginal space she has occupied until now and placing them in the centrally-framed suitcase. She seems to take one of the vinyl records – isn’t that Petra’s? – and then she lovingly appropriates the doll Sidonie gave Petra for her birthday, and then she turns out to have a gun… Clearly there was a lot we didn’t know about Marlene. Her decision not to speak now seems less a marker of subordination than a way of controlling how others (including us) perceive her.

But the best thing about this final shot is Petra herself, leaning against the bed-frame and smiling. She seems increasingly delighted by the spectacle of Marlene’s departure, and we don’t know whether her smile is reverent and admiring (like Marlene’s smile when she looked at Petra in earlier scenes…which we may have misinterpreted), or triumphant because she’s vindicated her own interpretation of Marlene’s subservience, or relieved because she’s finally getting rid of this one remaining shackle in her life.

In any case, this smile seems (to me) different from the icy smiles we’ve seen on Petra’s face until now. There are lots of ways to read the ending, but personally – unlike twbb – I find it quite optimistic. We first saw Petra without a wig or make-up, painfully facing a new day of pretence and play-acting, then laboriously applying her disguise while talking to Sidonie. Now, after burning away all the symptoms of her fucked-up life, she emerges from this traumatic but cathartic process, calm and un-adorned, accepting and even welcoming this final personal loss, before crawling into bed and returning to the sleep from which she was rudely awakened at the start.

There’s no clear indication of what will happen to Petra after this, but like Midas (whom Bacchus allows to wash away his golden touch by bathing in a river) she does seem to have cleansed herself of something toxic. In that sense it’s not unlike the cautious optimism of Fear Eats the Soul: self-awareness and mutual honesty may not actually solve any problems, but they do at least make the problems visible and enable you to begin coming to terms with them. Petra is undoubtedly better off alone than with the relationships she had.

By the way, one welcome side-effect of this discussion is that I now have ‘The Great Pretender’ playing relentlessly in my head all day long. It sounds like a live version, very unlike the two studio recordings I’m familiar with; does anyone know where it’s from?

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