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A lonely widow meets a much younger Moroccan worker in a bar during a rainstorm. They fall in love, to their own surprise and to the outright shock of their families, colleagues, and drinking buddies.
“Angst essen Seele auf” (released internationally as “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul”) is a remarkable film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, released in 1974. Set in Germany, the movie explores themes of love, loneliness, and prejudice, delivering a poignant and thought-provoking narrative.
The story revolves around the unexpected romance between Emmi, an elderly German cleaning lady played by Brigitte Mira, and Ali, a Moroccan immigrant worker portrayed by El Hedi ben Salem. Despite the significant age and cultural differences between them, Emmi and Ali find solace and companionship in each other’s company. However, their relationship is met with disdain and hostility from their families and society, who struggle to accept their unconventional union.
Fassbinder masterfully captures the complexity of human emotions and societal prejudices in “Angst essen Seele auf.” The film addresses racism, ageism, and xenophobia, shedding light on the destructive power of fear and the potential for love and understanding to transcend social boundaries. Fassbinder’s direction is sensitive and compassionate, highlighting the struggles faced by Emmi and Ali while providing insightful commentary on the broader issues at play.
The performances in the film are exceptional, particularly Brigitte Mira and El Hedi ben Salem, who bring depth and authenticity to their roles. Mira portrays Emmi with vulnerability and strength, evoking empathy from the audience as she defies societal expectations. Salem’s portrayal of Ali captures the internal conflict faced by an immigrant grappling with his identity and the judgment of others.
“Angst essen Seele auf” is widely regarded as a masterpiece of German cinema and a significant work in Fassbinder’s filmography. The film’s minimalist aesthetic and emotional intensity leave a lasting impact on viewers, challenging them to reflect on their own prejudices and the power of human connection.
In summary, “Angst essen Seele auf” is a powerful and timeless film that tackles important social issues with sensitivity and nuance. It is a must-watch for cinephiles and anyone interested in thought-provoking storytelling that explores the complexities of human relationships.