Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

The wildly prolific German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder paid homage to his cinematic hero Douglas Sirk with this update of that filmmaker’s 1955 All That Heaven Allows. A lonely widow (Brigitte Mira) meets a much younger Arab worker (El Hedi ben Salem) in a bar during a rainstorm. They fall in love, to their own surprise—and to the outright shock of their families, colleagues, and drinking buddies. In Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Fassbinder expertly wields the emotional power of classic Hollywood melodrama to expose the racial tensions underlying contemporary German culture.

Film Info

Special Features

  • New 4K digital restoration, supervised by director of photography Jürgen Jürges, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Introduction from 2003 by filmmaker Todd Haynes
  • Interviews from 2003 with actor Brigitte Mira and editor Thea Eymèsz
  • Shahbaz Noshir’s 2002 short Angst isst Seele auf, which reunites Mira, Eymèsz, and Jürges to tell the story, based on real events, of an attack by neo-Nazis on a foreign actor while on his way to a stage performance of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s screenplay
  • Signs of Vigorous Life: New German Cinema, a 1976 BBC program about the film movement of which Fassbinder was a part
  • Scene from Fassbinder’s 1970 film The American Soldier that inspired Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Chris Fujiwara

New cover by Michael Boland

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New 4K digital restoration, supervised by director of photography Jürgen Jürges, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Introduction from 2003 by filmmaker Todd Haynes
  • Interviews from 2003 with actor Brigitte Mira and editor Thea Eymèsz
  • Shahbaz Noshir’s 2002 short Angst isst Seele auf, which reunites Mira, Eymèsz, and Jürges to tell the story, based on real events, of an attack by neo-Nazis on a foreign actor while on his way to a stage performance of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s screenplay
  • Signs of Vigorous Life: New German Cinema, a 1976 BBC program about the film movement of which Fassbinder was a part
  • Scene from Fassbinder’s 1970 film The American Soldier that inspired Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Chris Fujiwara

New cover by Michael Boland

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Cast
Brigitte Mira
Emmi Kurowski
El Hedi ben Salem
Ali
Barbara Valentin
Barbara
Irm Hermann
Krista
Elma Karlowa
Mrs. Kargus
Anita Bucher
Mrs. Ellis
Gusti Kreissl
Paula
Doris Mattes
Mrs. Angermeyer
Margit Symo
Hedwig
Katharina Herberg
Girl in bar
Lilo Pempeit
Mrs. Münchmeyer
Peter Gauhe
Bruno
Marquard Bohm
Gruber
Walter Sedlmayr
Mr. Angermeyer
Credits
Director
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Writer
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Director of photography
Jürgen Jürges
Assistant cameraman
Thomas Schwan
Assistant director
Rainer Langhans
Editor
Thea Eymèsz
Sound
Fritz Müller-Scherz
Makeup
Helga Kempke
Still photographer
Peter Gauhe
Lighting
Ekkehard Heinrich
Production manager
Christian Hohoff

From The Current

Todd Haynes on Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Todd Haynes on Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
When we first released Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul in 2003, we asked filmmaker Todd Haynes to provide a video introduction. The year before, he had released his masterful Far from Heaven, a reworking of Douglas Sirk’s All T…
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul: One Love, Two Oppressions
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul: One Love, Two Oppressions

People struggle to escape their socially dictated roles in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s moving, Douglas Sirk–inspired melodrama.

By Chris Fujiwara

Dennis Lim’s Top 10
John Grant’s Top 10
The Stripped-Down Style of Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
The Stripped-Down Style of Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

Professor Jeff Smith illustrates how, under the constraints of a low budget and compressed shooting schedule, Rainer Werner Fassbinder arrived at a minimalist approach that blended seamlessly with his subject matter.

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The BFI ruminates on ten masterful portraits of loneliness, including Yasujiro Ozu’s Late Spring, David Lean’s Summertime, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, and Wong Kar-wai’s Chungking Express. For Eye on Design, Emily Gos…
John Lurie’s Top 10

Explore

Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Writer, Director

Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Rainer Werner Fassbinder made an astonishing forty-four movies—theatrical features, television movies and miniseries, and shorts among them—in a career that spanned a mere sixteen years, ending with his death at thirty-seven in 1982. He is perhaps remembered best for his intense and exquisitely shabby social melodramas (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul)—heavily influenced by Hollywood films, especially the female-driven tearjerkers of Douglas Sirk, and featuring misfit characters that often reflected his own fluid sexuality and self-destructive tendencies. But his body of work runs the gamut from epic period pieces (Berlin Alexanderplatz, the BRD Trilogy) to dystopic science fiction (World on a Wire) as well. One particular fascination of Fassbinder’s was the way the ghosts of the past, specifically those of World War II, haunted contemporary German life—an interest that wedded him to many of the other artists of the New German Cinema movement, which began in the late 1960s.