The Stripped-Down Style of Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

Having already made more than a dozen feature films in less than half a decade, the relentlessly prolific Rainer Werner Fassbinder catapulted to international acclaim with the 1974 Cannes award–winning Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, one of his most penetrating studies of how interpersonal relationships collide with complex social forces. Inspired by Douglas Sirk’s Hollywood melodramas, this tale of an unlikely romance between a lonely German widow and a younger Moroccan migrant worker gave the New German Cinema icon an opportunity to showcase a depth of compassion and tenderness rarely seen in his previous work. In the latest episode of Observations on Film Art, an ongoing series on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, professor Jeff Smith illustrates how, under the constraints of a low budget and compressed shooting schedule, Fassbinder arrived at a minimalist approach that blended seamlessly with his subject matter. Watch the below excerpt, then head to FilmStruck to see the entire episode along with our edition of the film.

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