The film I chose for the old women in film group this month was Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats The Soul (1974) . I saw it a long time ago with a group in the context of old women in film but at the time I did not blog and only made informal notes.

As usual the post viewing discussion was very lively and interesting with different points of view and occasional references to the rise of racism in today’s climate.


  • A very painful film to watch, not only the distress of Emmi’s situation but the dreadful hatred and prejudice shown by the people around Emmi. Shades of Hitler , the connection is made. It struck me that it is the loneliness that can also eat away at the soul. For Ali and Emmi that is how it all started. I thought Emmi’s comments that people were also envious were also true but fanned by fear of the stranger/foreigner but also to do with the prejudice against older women having younger husbands  –  it is O.K the other way round.
  • Realised the dilemma both characters were in but did not warm to them. Film fed into what is  wrongly my ‘prejudice’ but I found the women somewhat pathetic although I know I shouldn’t have. Racism appalling. Did not like the male character at all – was he using her? Was there anything genuine about him? Still not sure.
  • Such a powerful film. Seen it 4 times and it is just as powerful – if not more so in the current climate. Ageism, racism are so well depicted – not only the effect from the outside but also how one internalises (part of what racism and ageism are about). And finally (sp…) the saturated colours of melodrama , the long framed shots of stillness, portraits of loneliness, isolation , struggle. Fabulous.
  • Date 60? improbable but …. large number of Moroccan workers in Germany at this time. Racist society coming to terms with post war times. Couscous : foreign workers to embrace German culture not vice versa. Shower misconceptions.
  • Wonderful moving film. Not only does it make an initially implausible -seeming relationship feel right, it goes on to explore it from different angles. The age factor is seen as less important than the insider-outsider one. It then ends with a very unexpected reversal – it will be the old woman who looks after and may well survive the younger man.
  • I became rather bored . She was a likeable person but so simple. The plot was pretty obvious. How horrible most of Germans were.
  • So seventeens in look. Ostensibly about racism but about power play in relationships as well. She begins being the more powerful force and gradually Ali takes the upper hand. Younger man and olde women. (Cafe scene like the last supper ). Action happens in doorways and mirrors a lot (framed by doorways). Camera mostly static, lingers over Ali’s face and body. Macochism  Why? slapping himself. Not explained why a mere vacation results in racism and fear of the unknown evaporate?




About rinaross

Born in 1935. MA in Film and Television Studies at the University of Westminster 1998. Studying the representation of older women in film since then.
This entry was posted in Ageing, Ageism, FILM RECEPTION and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL.

  1. Rita Ferris-Taylor says:

    I found it a really gripping film with all the themes of racism, ageism, sexism, power dynamics in relationships and relevant to what is happening today. However, when I viewed it, I thought in the title graphics that the film was called ‘Fear eats the soul’, yet see that Rina calls it ‘Ali; Fear eats the Soul’ and that it bears the 2 different titles in different places on the internet. I find this difference of emphasis intriguing for many reasons. When viewing the film in the group, I was focussing more from the perspective of Emmi, as we are looking primarily at older women in film: however, just a slightly different title leads us to a different focus.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.