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Film 50: History of Cinema

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
3:10 p.m. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1973)

Lecture/ Emily Carpenter


(Angst essen Seele auf). In the unlikely love between a washerwoman (Brigitte Mira) and a Moroccan guest-worker (El Hedi Ben Salem) twenty years her junior, muscular Ali and diminutive Emmi redefine each other. This is Fassbinder’s most beautiful homage to Douglas Sirk, his interpretation of All That Heaven Allows. Where Sirk’s sadness is in America’s split from nature, Fassbinder finds an even more basic split, from humanity. Nowhere is his trademark framing—the indoor long-shot—more aptly integrated, nowhere his jewelbox colors more brilliantly contrasted with the reality they adorn.

• Written by Fassbinder. Photographed by Jürgen Jürges. With Brigitte Mira, El Hedi Ben Salem, Irm Hermann, Fassbinder. (93 mins, In German with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From Janus Films/Criterion Collection)