CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • AA
  • Drama, Romance
  • 1974
  • 93 mins

Fear Eats The Soul

Fear Eats The Soul

Synopsis

In 1970s Munich a middle-aged woman begins an affair with a young Arab mechanic. The local community is disgusted, but that's just the start of the couple's troubles in Fassbinder's film about interracial and inter-generational conflict

About

By 1973 Rainer Werner Fassbinder was well established as one of Germany's most fearlessly controversial filmmakers. Fear Eats The Soul (Angst Essen Seele Auf) was his first international success. Shot in just 15 days, it's a loose remake of the 1955 Douglas Sirk Hollywood melodrama All That Heaven Allows, and it bears Fassbinder's trademark mix of bitter cynicism, sensitivity and a fascination for those on society's margins.

Ostensibly a May-September romance, the story follows widow Emmi (Mira) as she meets and then marries Ali (Salem), an Arabic guest-worker in Munich. Their neighbours are unashamedly racist and the couple are treated with contempt. Emmi's son is so disgusted he kicks the TV in.

Fassbinder's film is as much about inner anguish as fear of the unknown. Shooting through windows and doorways, he uses understated but sophisticated visual motifs to emphasise the couple's alienation, and there's an added irony in the revelation that all this suffering is for nothing: they're bound by loneliness rather than love and before long Ali's humping the local barmaid. Ali, it transpires, isn't even his real name.

Finally the story runs headlong into a brick wall leaving several issues unresolved. But that, Fassbinder might say, is precisely the point of this sad but incisive slice of life.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Elma Karlowa, El Hedi Ben Salem, Irm Hermann, Barbara Valentin, Brigitte Mira
  • Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • Writer: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • Producer: Christian Hohoff
  • Photographer: Jürgen Jürges
  • Composer: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

In a nutshell

A powerful attempt to deal with a range of serious issues as well as the characters' own complex psychologies. Visually and dramatically intense, it remains one of Fassbinder's finest.

by Jon Fortgang

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 A Most Violent Year

    A Most Violent Year

    New York, 1981. An ambitious immigrant businessman tries to stay legit, despite stiff competition and violent threats from his ruthless, corrupt and often criminal rivals

  • Film4 Kingsman The Secret Service

    Kingsman: The Secret Service

    Kingsman agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) takes on a new rough-edged protégé (Taron Egerton) as tech mogul Richmond Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) enacts his plans for world domination

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Gearing up for the Glasgow Film Festival 2015

    The Glasgow Film Festival programme is announced and features Film4-backed films Second Coming and Catch Me Daddy plus much, much more, from 18th February to 1st March It¿s almost time once more for

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance

    As Louise Osmond's inspirational documentary about an unlikely group of friends who breed themselves a racehorse is about to premiere at Sundance 2015, Catherine Bray catches up with the director for

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share