Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul / Angst essen Seele auf

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Released: 1974

Writer: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Featured Actors: Brigitte Mira, El Hedi ben Salem, Barbara Valentin






And I don’t believe that melodramatic feelings are laughable – they should be taken absolutely seriously.

Rainer W. Fassbinder

Pre-Sirk Fassbinder

  • Like other European 1960’s directors, early Fassbinder films focused on political and social ideas woven into narratives

  • Additionally, Fassbinder and other independent filmmakers rejected typical Hollywood’s emotionally manipulative dramas

  • Leading to more cold & direct political commentary

  • Fassbinder’s films were labeled as pessimistic

Yes, actually ever since I saw his films and tried to write about them, Sirk’s been in everything I’ve done. Not Sirk himself, but what I’ve learned from his work.

Sirk’s influence Rainer W. Fassbinder

Sirk’s Influence

  • After watching Sirk films, Fassbinder was inspired by their direct human tenderness

  • He noted Sirk’s use of a simple and direct narrative that also showed suffering

  • Noticing Sirk’s ability to have the audience identify with the character’s prison, their captivity within rigid societies

  • True to his rebellious stance, Fassbinder rebelled against his own rebellious peers – challenging their easy contempt for Hollywood

  • Fassbinder believed that revolution did not belong on the screen, but out on the streets. He wanted to reveal the mechanisms clearly to show how they worked – make people want to change their realities

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul & All That Heaven Allows

  • Fassbinder wanted to work beyond the rigid restraints society put on age, he added a political & racial layer too

  • Both central women characters are incredibly good (Cary & Emmi)

  • Emmi, unlike Cary sticks to her values

  • Ali, like Cary, is more corruptible by his acceptance into society

  • Fassbinder likes using passive female characters as his central character to help demonstrate the limits & restraints of society

Cinematography and Set

  • Static / stiff / rigid shots

  • Most often shot from a distance

  • Through stiff & rigid shots w/ added distance Fassbinder is able to display tension

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