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ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL
1974 - Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Germany
100
Opening Shot

Scored by Arabic music Ali: Fear Eats the Soul opens to a woman walking in from the storm to a bar (isolated in a long shot). The shot cuts to the patrons at the bar he are frozen starring at her. She looks at them and then sits down...

The Film

Acclaimed German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 1974 Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is a simple, yet powerfully moving film. Based on Douglas Sirk's 1955 masterpiece All That Heaven Allows, Fassbinder avoids the heavy melodrama and shifts focus to the doomed relationship of it's main characters. We see the criticized couple (an aging cleaning woman, and a Moroccan laborer) as societies pressures continue to eat their souls, and break them apart. The films visual aspects are brilliant. Much like like Sirk's films, the colors are emphasized in bright tones to create (an artificial) "jolly" atmosphere. Through the cinematography and camera framing and spacing, Fassbinder shows societies separation and ignorance of the relationship. Its interesting comparing Fassbinders work with Sirk, for both their similarities and their differences. I do think there is a hopefulness to Fassbinders vision, even for its sadness. Truly a great achievement, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is to me (of what I've seen) Fassbinder's greatest film, and one of the very best of German cinema.

The Filmmaker

""What I would like is to make Hollywood movies, that is, movies as wonderful and universal, but at the same time not as hypocritical, as Hollywood." The life of German filmmaker R.W. Fassbinder is as unique and interesting as his films. Truly an original artist in every sense, Fassbinder is among the pioneers of post-WW2 German cinema and many claim that German cinema suffered after Fassbinder died (from a drug overdose at the age of 37). He was considered an outsider and much of his life is an enigma. Fassbinder was very critical of modern Germany throughout all of his films. Along with those of the German New Wave, Fassbinder's films were focused on being personal and politically-driven while also a departure from those of "classic" Hollywood. He is a brilliant writer and used many filmmakers as influences and Douglas Sirk became an new influence on his middle to late films. Through his influences and his own original vision, Fassbinder blended together a style that was often melodramatic, ironic, and controversial. Fassbinder was well known for his workaholic attitude as he made over 40 films in a span of just 13 years. Unfortunately, I have only seen seven of his films to date, but still have quickly come to see what is a truly unique artist.

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