Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

Fassbinder's Influence

Fassbinder was considered a controversial person in Western Germany for numerous reasons. First, he was considered a politically radical person since he sympathized with anarchist over capitalist societies.[3] Second, even though he was twice-married and had affairs with women, Fassbinder was openly gay. He featured one of his lovers, El Hedi ben Salem, as the star of Ali — Angst essen Seele auf.[3] On top of his political stance and homosexuality, Fassbinder openly criticized German racism by having foreign-men as lovers and was just as open about his drug use.[3]

Stephen Brockmann wrote “Fassbinder was also by all accounts an extremely difficult man to live and work with — something of a tyrant to those around him, as he also openly depicted himself in Deutschland im Herbst, shouting and humiliating persons around him”.[3] One can also see him behaving as such in the movie Ali: Fear Eats Soul. Looking at Fassbinder’s films though, it slowly becomes transparent how his background played an influence. Critics have commented on the remarkable aesthetics, political radicality, and the romantic and erotic human relationships in every one of his movies.[3] In Ali — Angst essen Seele auf, we have two lovers from polar opposite backgrounds: an Arab immigrant and an elderly German female. The erotic nature of their marriage challenges Emmi’s children, neighbors, and co-workers as their oppression is then aimed towards the couple.[4] We, as the audience, are then left to rebuke/justify the German racism of Fassbinder’s concern through this story. In addition, his works have always involved romantic relationships that experience a “nexus with power.”[3] Fassbinder considered love to be an effective form of social oppression, and it seems that in his love relationships that “the more one of Fassbinder’s characters loves another, the less power he or she has; the more one of Fassbinder’s characters is loved by another character, the more power he or she has.”[3][5]

The audience first witnesses their struggles once they’ve become “accepted” upon their return from vacation in Steinsee.[6] Fassbinder shows us that when Emmi has power over Ali being a German in Germany, he is still younger and more sexually powerful— which he uses to resume his affair with the bar owner.[4]

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