Fear Eats the Soul

Fear Eats the Soul
  • 1973
  • Germany
  • 1h 33min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • Written by: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • Cast: Brigitte Mira, El Hedi ben Salem, Barbara Valentin, Irm Hermann
  • Language: German, Arabic

A middle-aged charwoman who used to be a Nazi Party member, takes up with a young Arab immigrant worker, much to the consternation of her friends and neighbours. Typically melodramatic Fassbinder study of a disintegrating relationship, which also examines the problems of racism in West German society.

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In Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s remarkably prolific career, in which he made 40 feature films before his death at 37, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul marked a significant turning point. It was the film for which the director first received widespread international praise, winning two awards at Cannes including the coveted Critics’ Prize.   All the more impressive then that the film was made on a meagre budget in 15 days, intended as an exercise for Fassbinder to test ideas between the making of Martha *and *Effi Briest (both also 1974). Inspired by German-born director Douglas Sirk’s Hollywood melodramas, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul depicts the tender but much derided relationship that develops between Emmi, an elderly German cleaning lady (Brigitte Mira) and Ali, a considerably younger Moroccan ‘guest worker’ (El Hedi ben Salem) whom she meets at a rundown Munich bar one rainy night.

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Reviews & features

Stanley Kubrick & Rainer Werner Fassbinder

5 Mar 2009

This month two monsters of cinema meet in the central belt. As German auteur Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s takes over the Glasgow Film Theatre (courtesy of Goethe Institut) with a small selection of his better known films (Fear Eats the Soul, Effi Brest…

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