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Ali - Fear Eats the Soul

By Sean Axmaker

Rainer Werner Fassbinder paid tribute to his mentor, Douglas Sirk, with this loose adaptation of All That Heaven Allows, the classic American soaper of a widow falling for younger man to the disapproval of family and friends. Fassbinder combines the Sirk melodrama with the story told in his own The American Soldier. An aging, lonely charwoman (sweet old Brigitte Mira) befriends a Moroccan guest worker (El Hedi ben Salem) at least 20 years her junior. Finding comfort and happiness in one another's company, they suddenly marry. Her kids are aghast, his friends appalled, and the neighborhood turns its back, so the two pull together for support. Their relationship ironically begins to unravel when the pressure of community prejudice eases and they must confront the gulf between them. Combining melodrama with social commentary, Fassbinder offers a sharp, incisive portrait of prejudice in modern Germany grounded in contemporary social conditions. Mira delivers a tender, vulnerable performance and Fassbinder molds Salem's stiffness into a distinctive character trait of a man ill at ease in German society. It's an assured and beautiful film, full of gliding camerawork and evocative images, and invested with intimacy and gentleness. Even Fassbinder's characteristically grim conclusion defies tragedy for a glimmer of hope, a welcome and affecting rarity in his career.

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Not RatedNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Stars: Brigitte Mira, El Hedi ben Salem, Barbara Valentin

Released: October 5, 1974

Availability: DVD VHS


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