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Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of English. (Swedish Institute for North American Studies)ORCID iD: markus.heide@engelska.uu.se
2019 (English)Other (Other academic)
Resource type
Text
Abstract [en]

The director Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945-82) shaped 1970s German cinema like very few others. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Ali: Angst essen Seele auf) stands out as a particularly significant contribution to New German Cinema because of its minimalistic cinematography, the acting that references the Brechtian alienation effect, and the focus on highly relevant social controversies in post-war West German society. However, unlike most auteur cinema of the time, Fassbinder employs a melodramatic emotional guidance of the audience through shifts in camera perspective and dialogue. The romance between a Moroccan “guest worker” and an elderly German cleaner was inspired by Douglas Sirk’s melodramas of the 1950s that Fassbinder became interested in in his later period of filmmaking (Reimer 1996). Fear Eats the Soul, in certain ways, is a remake of Sirk´s All That Heaven Allows (1955) that tells the love story of a wealthy widow and her significantly younger gardener in a New England small town. The social environment of the well-respected family strongly objects to the marriage across class boundaries. However, Fassbinder’s melodrama reshapes the plot by adding racialized and national difference as central issues that make the relationship controversial. Moreover, he uses German society as a setting, a society that is shown to be still struggling with the history of its Nazi-past while at the same time having to come to terms with the presence of migrant workers and racist anti-Arab sentiment, which intensified after the PLO-linked attack on the Israeli team at the Munich summer Olympics in 1972 (which the film refers to a few times). Even decades later the complex filmic treatment of anti-migration sentiments, anti-Arab prejudices, and racism still seems to be highly relevant as a critical analysis of not only German but European societies that currently face new populist nationalism and anti-refugee politics. Fear Eats the Soul can be read as a symbolic treatise on mechanisms of social control and exclusion and on the destructive power of ideologies defending community cohesion and notions of purity in modern societies. The metaphorics of the guest and the host mold this disillusioning and painful love story.

Place, publisher, year, pages
Salamanca, Spain, 2019. , p. 6
Series
Hospitality and European Film
Keywords [en]
Migration, Film, Hospitality, Germany
National Category
Cultural Studies Studies on Film
Research subject
German; History of Art
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-379707DOI: hostfilm.usal.es/index.php/fear-eats-the-soul-2/OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-379707DiVA, id: diva2:1297447
Funder
EU, European Research CouncilAvailable from: 2019-03-20 Created: 2019-03-20 Last updated: 2019-03-27Bibliographically approved

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