8.1/10
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Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)

Angst essen Seele auf (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 31 October 1974 (USA)
A lonely widow meets a much younger Arab worker 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.
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4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Brigitte Mira ... Emmi
El Hedi ben Salem ... Ali
Irm Hermann ... Krista
Elma Karlowa ... Mrs. Kargus
Anita Bucher Anita Bucher ... Mrs. Ellis
Gusti Kreissl Gusti Kreissl ... Paula
Doris Mattes Doris Mattes ... Mrs. Angermeyer (as Doris Mathes)
Margit Symo ... Hedwig
Katharina Herberg ... Girl in bar
Lilo Pempeit Lilo Pempeit ... Mrs. Münchmeyer
Peter Gauhe ... Bruno Kurowski
Marquard Bohm ... Gruber
Walter Sedlmayr ... Angermayer
Hannes Gromball ... Waiter
Hark Bohm ... Doctor
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Storyline

The wildly prolific German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder paid homage to his cinematic hero Douglas Sirk with this update of that filmmaker's All That Heaven Allows (1955). 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.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film has a 100% rating based on 34 critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. See more »

Quotes

Emmi Kurowski: But when we're together, we must be nice to each other. Otheriwse, life's not worth living.
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Crazy Credits

Before the introductory credits there is the line: Das Glück ist nicht immer lustig (Happiness is not always fun) See more »

Connections

Referenced in Love (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Du Schwarzer Zigeuner (Cikánka)
Written by Karel Vacek
Performed by R.A. Dvorský
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User Reviews

 
A German Update of "All That Heaven Allows"
14 September 2007 | by evanston_dadSee all my reviews

Rainer Werner Fassbinder's quietly powerful film is a sort-of remake of Douglas Sirk's "All That Heaven Allows," a film and director greatly admired by Fassbinder, but it has a sharper edge than Sirk's film. In "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul," the couple fighting a society's prejudice and resentment of their unconventional love must fight some of their own prejudices as well. In Sirk's film, the only thing imposing on the complete happiness of Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson was the busy-body ostracism of family and friends who didn't approve of the relationship between a rich society widow and her working-class gardener. In "Ali," Fassbinder suggests that happiness isn't something that's gained from the approval of others, but rather is the responsibility of the individuals involved. One of the things I liked best about this film is that as the German society gets used to the unconventional romance and begins to accept our two protagonists, the couple themselves begin to struggle to maintain a grip on the happiness they thought would be their's by right.

Fassbinder's unconventional couple are a frumpy German widow and a Moroccan immigrant 10-15 years younger than her. I gather from this film that Moroccans (or Arabs in general) were about as hated and feared in Germany at the time of this film's release as blacks were in America during the worst of the civil rights movement. So you can imagine how the couple's initial courting and subsequent marriage is handled by their neighbors, friends and family. Fassbinder himself was gay, and many suggest that the film is an allegory for the way homosexuals were persecuted. Fassbinder's private life undoubtedly informed his film, but the movie is really more universal than that. It really applies to anyone who's ever suffered the judgement of a group of people over something that didn't even affect those people, and really, who can honestly say that they've never been subjected to that?

Fassbinder directs in a low-key, unfussy style, yet he creates images and scenes that linger in the head long after the film is over. It's a lovely film, very well acted, scripted and directed. It's not exactly sad, because it argues that societies are able eventually to adapt to new things and accept things they originally rejected. But it's not exactly happy either, because it suggests that relationships don't necessarily become easier just because external obstacles are removed.

Grade: A


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Details

Country:

West Germany

Language:

German | Arabic

Release Date:

31 October 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

DEM260,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,623, 16 February 2003

Gross USA:

$8,144

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$15,698
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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