Angst Essen Seele auf (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul) Reviews
However, I do applaud the film for being gutsy in a lot of ways. It reminded me of Kramer's "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?" if it were void of understanding characters such as Spencer Tracy's. It is a powerful statement that Fassbinder was trying to make, unfortunately the lack of character development renders it ineffective in a lot of ways.
Angst Essen Seele auf is an intimate portrait of the relationship between a sixty-something German widow and her forty-something Moroccan lover. Fassbinder effectively (and brilliantly) conveys their isolation and the whirlpool of racism and bigotry that surrounds them.
This is a very odd film that is surprisingly touching and eloquent.
It also has a notably poor, misleading title -- it sounds like some sort of no-budget zombie flick! And I don't know why the "Ali" prefix was added for the English market. Very awkward, and just makes me think of, say, "Manos: The Hands of Fate."
[font=Century Gothic]The movie is set specifically in Munich which made me think about two things:[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]1) Munich was also the setting of the 1972 Olympic terrorist attacks - two years before this movie was filmed.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]2) Emmi takes Ali to a restaurant she said Hitler used to frequent. Hitler is invoked on a few occasions in the film. This got me thinking that the racism in Germany was possibly going on a long time before World War II and also afterwards. And some of the treatment of immigrants in this movie reminded me of some of the recent debate concerning immigrant workers in my part of the world.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]But "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul" is also about loneliness. Fassbinder treats his lonely characters with utmost respect. I had never seen a movie that captured the loneliness of a person when he immigrates to another country and is cut off from his home, culture, friends and family, quite so well. Some of Emmi's loneliness stems from her lack of contact with her grown children.[/font]
Emi is only forgiven for her transgression when her cruel peers realize that their ability to ruthlessly exploit her is now in jeopardy. As the external pressures over the couple begin to subside, internal conflicts surface. The film's ending, as sudden and melodramatic as life can be, is a reflection of the unendurable tension Ali experiences as a stranger in a hostile land. But Emmi is able to suggest a solution: "When we're together, we must be nice to one another.''