Thursday, September 10, 2015

588. Angst essen Seele auf

Angst essen Seele auf
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder

I haven't been able to stop thinking about this movie since I saw it a couple hours ago.  The characters in this film are absolutely fascinating, but the story behind the scenes is even more intriguing.  This is blossoming into a bit of an obsession for me.

Emmi is a sixty year old cleaning woman who falls in love with a Moroccan immigrant after he asks her to dance as a dare.  Isn't that charming?  Her children and the people around her are horrified by this relationship.  Not because of the age difference (get it, girl!) but because of his race and how he can barely speak German.  So it is basically Harold and Maude, but with much higher stakes.

Like I said, the characters in this movie are all extremely engrossing.  Emmi claims to be in love with this man, but why?  They can barely communicate.  I suppose he listens to her and is hot.  As someone who is in the dating arena right now, I can tell you that is not an easy find.  Still, she treats him like a prize.  And something is up with Ali, obviously.  Maybe he was searching for some form of acceptance in Germany.  And as for the bitchy women in her building, were they jealous?  If he was white, would that have been as nasty?

This is clearly a thought provoking movie, and I wished I had watched it with someone so I could discuss it more.  Although that's why I have internet commentators!

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Shot in a little over two weeks.

The title is a reference to Ali's poor German, as it translates to "Fear eats the soul up."

El Hedi ben Salem was Rainer Werner Fassbinder's lover at the time of filming.  Well, that explains a lot.


  1. By far the most engaging and accessable of Fassbinder's films..
    I pretty much agree with your conclusions..Well, maybe .. and I say clearly 'maybe' .. the other women. I'm not sure if they are jealous.. I suspect just basic racism based on ignorance. They just don't understand why. As, in one way, we don't either. As you say, communication is very limited ..
    "Hi Ali, good to see you again, I was just reading this book.. I think it's great the way the author shows the position of women in the late C19th, and the development of society.. What do you think?"
    "What? I forget buy milk?"
    No, she sees his gentleness, and , excuse the descent into cliche, his soul.. the kindness in there.
    I guess perhaps she may wear him as a prize .. as an old guy may do with a young sexy woman .. but that's perhaps her defence against the neighbours.
    As for Ali .. yes, he want's acceptance, but he wants some warmth and human connection. After all the rejection he will have had from others he comes across.. someone showing kindness must be welcome.
    OK, we could say this is some sort of co-dependant relationship, two lost and lonely people finding some solice with each other, but you can say .. hey, whatever gets you by.
    (Just lets not think of the sequal, 5 years later, when he has learnt German and starts going on about the Beep footbal and can say "fetch me a beer woman")

  2. Haha yes, I think he clearly does not treat her very well, what with the cheating and the not telling her where he goes. I didn't think jealousy at first but the ending made me start to rethink that...don't want to give anything away. I guess I shouldn't judge their relationship; what do I know?