Search - Ali - Fear Eats the Soul - Criterion Collection on DVD

Ali - Fear Eats the Soul - Criterion Collection
Ali - Fear Eats the Soul - Criterion Collection
Actors: Anita Bucher, El Hedi ben Salem, Irm Hermann, Elma Karlowa, Gusti Kreissl
Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2003     1hr 34min

Rainer Werner Fassbinder, already the director of almost twenty films by the age of 29, paid homage to his cinematic hero, Douglas Sirk, with this updated version of Sirk's All That Heaven Allows. Lonely widow Emmi Kurowsk...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Anita Bucher, El Hedi ben Salem, Irm Hermann, Elma Karlowa, Gusti Kreissl
Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance
Studio: Criterion
Format: DVD - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 06/24/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/1974
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1974
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 34min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 25
Edition: Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: German
Subtitles: English
See Also:

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Movie Reviews

Brilliant film
Lisa Shea | 03/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ali - Fear Eats the Soul is a somber German tale by Rainer Werner Fassbinder of racism in Munich of the 1970s. An older woman, a widow, happens into an Arab bar to escape the rain. This is post-1972 Munich, where the bombing of the Olympic games by Islamic terrorists is still fresh in peoples' minds. But this woman is Emmi, who married a Polish worker years ago despite her own family's prejudices. She raised 3 children with him before he died of an ulcer. Now she's ready to love again. And love she does - she falls for Ali, a Moroccan worker with a gentle soul and a partial command of the German tongue. Ali is 20 years younger than her, but he falls for her gentle ways. They sleep together on the first night, and despite the hostility of her family, her co-workers and local group, she marries him quickly. They are very happy together, but the anger of all around her wear her down. Finally she goes off on a vacation with Ali, promising him that when they return everything will be better. An in an amazingly bizarre plot device, things ARE better. Suddenly everyone who was mean to them before finds reasons to be nice - selfish reasons. The grocer wants her money back. Her son wants her to care for the granddaughter. The apartment-mates need help moving equipment. Emmi doesn't care - she's just happy that everybody is being nice again. But Ali is getting frustrated. He gave up his soul to be with Emmi, and while Emmi is regaining her friends again, Ali has nothing. He is still stuck with a foreign tongue, living in a foreign landscape. All he asks for is some cous cous to remind him of hime - and Emmi harsly tells him to get used to German cooking. So Ali, who is a drifting reed through most of this story, drifts back into his Arab world. He hooks up with a female Arab friend of his who cooks the food he loves and who snuggles with him at night. He plays cards with his Arab buddies while listening to Arab music. Emmi realizes her loss and comes after him. She tells him it's OK if he has other women, other friends. All she wants is his love and his presence, to fight off the loneliness. And Ali admits to her that he loves only her, that he doesn't know how this got so confusing. Then Ali collapses with an ulcer, just like Emmi's immigrant husband did. The doctor tells Emmi that he can't help Ali at all - he can only fix him for now, send him off and expect him to return in 6 months with another ulcer. But Emmi promises that she will make this work - she will reduce the stress so Ali is happy. I really enjoyed this movie, especially in modern day times with all the arguments going on about gay and lesbian marriages. It wasn't that long ago that the color of your skin was enough to bar you from marrying. It's very scary to think that, with so many people hoping someday to find happiness, that we would put barriers in the way of any two human beings who have managed to find it, even if they are years apart in age, or shades apart in color."
Want some couscous?
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 02/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is a wonderful story with a strong socioeconomic message that can be compared to Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows (1956) and Far From Heaven (2002) by Todd Haynes where an older woman loves a younger man from a different ethnic group. Fassbinder's film takes place in Munich in the shadow of the 1972 Olympics when Arab terrorists took part of the Israel Olympic team hostage, which ended in a blood bath. Nevertheless, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is a completely unrelated story to the bloodshed that took place in 1972 as it is told around Ali, a Moroccan guest worker, and Emmi, an older German woman, who fall in love with one another. Ali and Emmi come across each other at a local Arabian bar as Emmi seeks shelter from the rain outside. Ali and Emmi dance, converse, and Emmi invites Ali home for a nightcap as she is suffering from loneliness. Together they have to confront prejudice and racism as their relationship progresses since Ali looks and speaks differently than the German people around them. During their struggle they decide to go on a short vacation in order to escape the intolerance that surrounded them and as they come back Ali and Emmi begin to have their own doubts of their relationship. Fassbinder's film is a brilliant story and it uses some interesting cinematography that elevates the cinematic experience. However, the sound quality of the dialogues removes the realistic tone of the environment which sounds recorded and the characters are sometimes awkwardly portrayed by the cast. Nevertheless, Fassbinder created a truly unique cinematic experience as he colors the environment with his own touch and it leaves the audience with a great feeling."
MOULDINGS ........
Kim Anehall | 01/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Considering all of the hoopla surrounding "Far From Heaven" - excellent though it is - one should not forget this earlier tribute to Douglas Sirk - and in some ways more fitting .....Considering the unglamorous framework used by Fassbinder 'reducing' the elevated Jane Wyman [Julianne Moore] role to a blue collar charlady {the very superior Brigitte Mira} this version speaks volumes and addresses perhaps the universal fear of the 'slightly different'.Very unsettling to watch 30 years ago - still unsettling under today's 'wraps'."
"The story of impossible love"
Galina | Virginia, USA | 01/11/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This powerful and gentle film tells the story of love and marriage of Emmi, a 60+ widowed German cleaning lady and Ali, a Moroccan immigrant mechanic who is more than 20 (I think close to 30) years her younger. Their affair and the decision to marry shocked everyone who knew Emmi: her grown children, her neighbors, coworkers (mostly, middle-aged widows as herself) and even the owner of a neighborhood grocery shop where she has been a loyal customer for years. The way clever and observant Fassbinder looks at their struggle to keep the relationship is deeply pessimistic - the couple could survive the obstacles that society would create for them. They can survive disapproval, misunderstanding and prejudice but at the very moment they think all problems are in the past, they find the emptiness inside and two lonely hearts together are even worse than one. The more I think of it the more I realize that "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul" is among the best, the most poignant, gentlest and heartbreaking descriptions of unavailability for happiness ever filmed. What makes the movie even more poignant is the fact that both Fassbinder and El Hedi ben Salem, the man whom Fassbinder loved and who played Ali committed suicide in the same year, Fassbinder - a few weeks after El Hedi. The film is also a love letter to El Hedi. In one of the film's most moving scene, Emmi looks at the man with whom she so suddenly and desperately fell in love with admiration, longing, and wise sadness while he dries himself after the shower. It is not only Emmi looks at Ali, it is Rainer looks with love and affection at the man he loved through the lenses of his camera.