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Fear Eats the Soul

Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Germany, 1974

HOME, 4 April 2017
Fear Eats the Soul

Fassbinder’s beautiful film is about love, a sudden illumination, between a German woman and a Moroccan man.

Her world rejects him because he is an Auslander and has dark skin. His world rejects her because she is old, a grandmother. Both worlds agree on one thing, anyway: their relationship is unnatural. Yet it endures, because Emmi (Brigitte Mira) and ‘Ali’ (El Heidi Ben Salem), for all their flaws and misunderstandings, need each other.

Some of the social observation and attitudes seem simple and crass now. It is also a bit patronising: just feed ‘Ali’ couscous and he will be happy. And when your friends come around, invite them to feel his lovely muscles. Point out that he is such a useful chattel to have in the house. But for all that, this is a film with a big and brave, a Brobdingnagian heart.

A magnificent film.