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Ali: Fear Eats The Soul

Rainer Werner Fassbinder

The wildly prolific German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder paid homage to his cinematic hero Douglas Sirk with this update of that filmmaker’s 1955 All That Heaven Allows. A lonely widow (Brigitte Mira) meets a much younger Arab worker (El Hedi ben Salem) in a bar during a rainstorm. They fall in love, to their own surprise—and to the outright shock of their families, colleagues, and drinking buddies. In Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Fassbinder expertly wields the emotional power of classic Hollywood melodrama to expose the racial tensions underlying contemporary German culture

“This immaculately staged drama is Fassbinder’s assault on the intolerance of 1970s German society… The performances are flawless; the themes remain timely.” – The Observer

“Sirk lays the groundwork with All That Heaven Allows, though Fassbinder also remembers Aldrich’s forthrightness in Autumn Leaves, they’re all boiled into a magnificently laconic distillate of taboo and conformism.” – Cinepassion

“Though it may sound like purposefully alienating Marxist homework in theory, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul remains beautifully irresolvable. Fassbinder achieves an emotional, socio-political hyper-awareness scene by scene that culminates, nevertheless, into a film of considerable romantic mystery.” – Slant

“The style is breathtaking, as was often the case in the director’s Hollywood-influenced middle period, evoking Sirk’s tracking shots and controlled mise-en-scene while implying the impossibility of their underlying emotion being realized. This paradox is a source of dark humor for Fassbinder and helps the film from becoming merciless: The jokes are to prevent us from weeping.” – Cine-File

“Fassbinder so often pulls back characters’ surfaces to reveal their tortured psyches, reflecting the human condition bracingly back onto his audience. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is a prime example of that talent sharpened to its finest point.” – Toxic Universe



  • 1/12 | 6:00PM
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