Ali: Fear Eats the Soul Symbols, Allegory and Motifs
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Written by Maria Nicola
The bar where Ali and Emmi meet has a symbolic meaning. The bar is a place for transitions where the audience can see for the first time two cultures crash. On one hand, the Arab culture represented by the music played in the bar and the western culture, represented by the people frequenting the bar. The meeting between Emmi and Ali was possible because it happened in a place that can be situated as being in between the German society and the Arab society. Had the encounter happen elsewhere, probably the outcome would have been completely different.
The idea the Ali is not a good as the Germans around him is an idea found in the movie from the beginning. Those who see Emmi and Ali together think that Emmi degraded her worth by associated with someone they saw as being inferior. Ali even admits that he saw the tendency Germans had to consider those who were black as being animals and tells her that he is considered as being a dog in his workplace by his employer.
The old Germany
When Ali spends his first night at Emmi’s apartment, they are seen by one of Emmi’s neighbors who then wakes up another neighbor to tell her what she had seen. The two women symbolize the Old Germany, a country that remained racist and with the idea that they are superior simply because they have a certain skin color or nationality.
Osteria is the restaurant where Ali and Emmi went to eat after they got married. The restaurant is symbolic because it foreshadows how Emmi’s attitude will change towards her new husband. Before entering the restaurant, Emmi notes how that was the place where Hitler used to eat and how she always dreamt of going there as well. This statement could be a subtle reference towards Emmi’s hidden ideas about everyone who was not German.
Towards the end of the film, Ali tells Emmi that he would like to eat couscous, a traditional Arab dish. Emmi refuses to cook couscous for him, claiming that he should make an effort to integrate into the German society and should learn to eat what the other Germans eat. This refusal symbolizes Emmi’s re- Germanification and her desire to be accepted by those around her. This time, Emmi is not willing to endanger her reputation for the man she loves and pretends that he changes to fit her needs.
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