Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)

About the film

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Angst essen Seele auf, in German), is a romance-drama film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1974. The film follows a timeless tale of an older woman and a younger man of different nationalities falling in love.

Werner also contributed to opening social chasm between the two nationalities with romance in the film. What I love about this film is that it shows the effects of racism deeply affecting the couple’s relationship and shows the toll of emotions they go through.

Social pressure and racist attitudes were showcased in the film to show the thoughts of those who opposed their unusual relationship. There were also references to Hitler that shows that back in the 1970s, his works were still influencing the people as the female protagonist, a cleaner, hopes to one day drink at Hitler’s favorite bar.


When the couple first met, Ali mentioned that Arabs were seen as slaves to the Germans. Hence, because of this ideology, the Germans act like they were of a higher social class than Ali.

Both the female and male protagonist, Emmi and Ali displayed xenophobia throughout the film.

One key scene is the interaction that differed from the usual romantic gestures when Emmi’s neighbors were around. Emmi treated Ali like he was her pet by asking the neighbors to feel his muscles. Ali was unhappy and did not return home that very night after tha. This shows that Emmi was ashamed or too embarrassed to introduce him to them as her lover.

My Response

Fear eats our soul inside out and sometimes, we think that we would never be liked another because that’s how humans are wired. – We tend to think the worst of ourselves and constantly compare ourselves with others. 

Inspired by the love between Emmi and Ali:

Title: Tell me

Tell me that I am no different from the other,
that you treated me like I am your lover.

Tell me when you were not ashamed of me
because of the colour of my skin.

Tell me if you really did meant it when you said you love me,
because when your neighbors came over,
I felt a cut in my heart.

das Ende. The end.

About the author:

Fiona, who believes that in life good and bad things happen. They are full of pain and happiness.  Also, she accepted the author’s invitation to this blog without creating an account so she is now using a kind-hearted cutie’s account.


Brightlightsfilm. n.d.. Emmi & Ali. [image online] Available at: http://brightlightsfilm.com/42/42_images/alitwoshothead.jpg [Accessed: 23 June 2013].

Blogger. 2011. Neighbor visits. [image online] Available at: http://madamepickwickartblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/fassbinder7.png [Accessed: 23 June 2013].

37 days. 2007. humans. [image online] Available at: http://www.37days.com/images/2007/09/09/crowd50.jpg [Accessed: 23 June 2013].




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