The question of race permeates every pore of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s magnificent German melodrama, ‘Ali: Fear Eats the Soul’

Posted on June 6, 2020


The older generation will slowly pass on and equality will (hopefully) simply be something we take for granted, not something to be “grappled with”. But then, Twitter and Whatsapp tell us otherwise.

An inter-racial romance seems apt to talk about in these #GeorgeFloyd times, especially when race colours every aspect of the “romance” in question. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul — Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s German melodrama from 1974 — is about a lonely woman and a lonely man getting together so they’ll no longer be alone. But that’s just the beginning. And that’s just the surface.

The man is Ali, a thirty-something Arab. He works in Munich, but he’s from Morocco and his birth name is El Hedi ben Salem M’Barek Mohammed Mustapha, but you can see why he’s called Ali. It’s easier to fit in, conform, than to wear your identity on your sleeve. It’s easy to go by Ali instead of insisting that the people of Munich call him El Hedi ben Salem M’Barek Mohammed Mustapha — especially given the way they look at foreigners. “They’re filthy pigs… The way they live! Whole families crammed into one room. All they’re interested in is the money… None of them work… They live here at our expense. You only have to read the papers: full of rapes and so on.”

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