Ali: Fear Eats The Soul

NR, 94 minutes


Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL plays as the fourth and final title in a four-part Essential Cinema series dedicated to UNRULY WOMEN in cinema.

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. (1974, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 93 mins, Germany, German with English subtitles, NR)

“The film is powerful but very simple. It is based on a melodrama, but Fassbinder leaves out all of the highs and lows, and keeps only the quiet desperation in the middle. The two characters are separated by race and age, but they have one valuable thing in common: They like one another, and care for one another, in a world that otherwise seems coldly indifferent.” — Roger Ebert

“The first 10 minutes are simply staggering: the credibility of the machinations that play out, the bold romanticism of the framing and lighting, the subtle poeticism of the dialogue all astound in their candor and eloquence…Fassbinder made so many incredible films, but this is certainly up there with his finest.” — David Jenkins, Little White Lies

“The performances of Brigitte Mira and El Hedi Ben Salem as Emmi and Ali are superb; they act with instant sympathy and charm and in their own way, they are the most purely lovable characters I have ever seen on a movie screen.” — Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

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