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on 27 March 2013
I cannot add much to some of the excellent reviews that have already been said about this film. It blends perfectly Douglas Sirk like melodrama with important human issues in a very real way.
Needless to say it is one of my favourite films and this Dvd version has some excellent bonus material also.
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on 1 June 2017
IT DID NOT ARRIVE!! Massively disappointed. Would not bout from BB Corps again.
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on 19 January 2006
Fear Eats The Soul is one of the defining films of the New German Cinema movement of the late 60's and early 70's, and is perhaps the first true masterpiece by the maverick filmmaker, Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Fear Eats the Soul could also be seen as the first film that is characteristic of the director's trademark style; as he advances on the territory of earlier films like The Merchant Of Four Seasons and The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant, whilst all the while refining his style of camp Douglas Sirk-inspired melodrama, and spiralling emotional despair. Like the majority of the director's work, Fear Eats The Soul focuses on a relationship between two characters from different backgrounds, in this case, an elderly German woman and a Moroccan immigrant.
Like his later film, Fox and his Friends, Fear Eats The Soul uses the central relationship to comment on contemporary German society and their treatment of the outsider. In 'Fox', it was the shallow upper-classes who passed scorn on the working-class carnival worker, essentially using his capacity for love (and his naive understanding of human emotion) in order to get their hands on his recent lottery winnings. In 'Fear', however, the villains of the piece are the same working class characters that seemed so simple and idealised in the film yet to come; the close-friends, neighbours and co-workers who should be celebrating the relationship, instead... set out to destroy it. In 'Fear', Fassbinder is attempting to hold a mirror up to the latent racism of the post-war generation, drawing on the country's dark past and sense of collective historical guilt (...not just of Germany, but of Europe as a whole). However, he doesn't feel the need to limit himself to the idea of race and racism. As with 'Fox', which used homosexuality to define the central relationship - but not the arc of the story - 'Fear' uses race as a device to simply underline the closed-minded suspicion, pettiness and capacity for causing pain that is central to the genetic make up of all human beings.
Are the characters in opposition to the relationship really out to harm Emmi and Ali, or can they merely see that this kind of relationship can never work? Fassbinder presents both sides of the story - having Emmi and Ali living a blissful, loved-up relationship, whilst all around them family members are turning their backs and neighbours are starting to talk - only to later then flip the coin - by having the friends and family slowly begin to accept the relationship and even admire Ali - whilst behind closed-doors the once vibrant relationship is beginning to wilt. Fassbinder asks the audience to bring their own painful experiences to the film in order to better understand the character's plight and to see that ultimately, regardless of the opinions of those around us, it is our own feelings that will consume and eventually destroy us.
As with most of the films from his mid-period career, Fassbinder is always doing something interesting with the camera and production design, trying to visualise the connection and later the defragmentation of the relationship through his use of mise-en-scene. The first scene, in which Ali and Emmi meet, is a master class in forced perspectives; as Fassbinder uses the camera and positioning of the actors to isolate our two protagonists from the other customers in the bar. He also shoots through doorways, having characters together but constantly distanced by the jarring production design that is constantly getting in the way and (sub-textually?) splitting the characters apart. One of the most talked about scenes in the film is the legendary "sea of yellow chairs" moment, in which Emmi and Ali sit quietly at a road-side café, watched, suspiciously, by the motionless employees and segregated by a sea of empty, plastic yellow garden furniture. The use of colour, although subtle when compared to later films like Lola and Querelle, is quietly overwhelming, particularly in the way Fassbinder moves from drab, white interiors (Emmi's bourgeois existence) to the vibrancy of the outdoors or the textural shades of the local bar (Ali's more sinful domain).
The political points and the insights into modern German society are intelligent and add a certain depth to what could have easily become just another routine melodrama, with Fassbinder really managing to cut through the black and white aspects (pun intended) of human nature, by contrasting loving and nurturing behaviour with actions and dialog that would suggest something else. Fassbinder never falls into the trap of presenting cloying sentiment and always remains true - despite anything else - to the hope and spirit of his characters.
Whether you want to view it as a straight romantic melodrama, or as a treatise on race, age differences and/or society in general is ultimately up to you. Fassbinder never underlines the actions or moral/ideological standpoints of his film, instead, choosing to tell a story and allowing the audience to bring their own interpretations to it. The performances are strong throughout, with Brigitte Mira bringing out the loneliness and vulnerability of Emmi, but at the same time, retaining an element of strength. The role of Ali was written specifically for Fassbinder's one-time lover El Hedi Ben Salem, who, although limited as a performer, does manage to present the various emotional shades of the character well, and creates a real human being, regardless of limitation. Tragically, Salem would take his break up with Fassbinder very badly, stabbing a group of people to death towards the end of the decade, and taking his own life whilst in prison in 1982. Fassbinder would die of a drug-overdose later that year.
Fear Eats The Soul is a film that is coloured by the various tragedies of Fassbinder's life, though it never panders to self-pity. Although fairly bleak, like a lot of his films, Fear Eats The Soul urges us to find hope in even the most hopeless of situations, and remains one of Fassbinder's most touching and beautiful works.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 16 February 2012
This has always been one of my favourite films too, so I wanted to add my two cent's worth, even though its 5 star rating seems secure! I sometimes think Fassbinder can be too bleak but here his analysis is softened by the presence of Brigitte Mira and the result is a kind of perfection. It remains incisive and clear, yet never simplistic, while Mira with her wonderful face makes the whole thing fully realised in human terms. Her character is able to tell us everything we need to know about the heart and what matters in life, even if politics is a bit of a closed book to her; her dignity and pathos are virtually unmatched. And her outfits are pretty extraordinary in a 70s sort of way! The simplest domestic gestures and utterances take on an incredible quality when she is making them. The actor playing Ali is also very good, and you feel every aspect of their relationship and its ramifications is touched on. Fassbinder has a way of making characters hold a look that carries such a potent sense of emotion; when Emmi comes to the garage to find Ali, for instance, the others laugh, and the two of them just look at each other ; it is almost impossible to watch, it is so heartrending. Or the scene when her son kicks in the television set ... But Emmi's inner life and love cannot and will never cede to the meanness of others. It's simply one of the best films ever made. Mira also appears to brilliant effect in Mother Kusters' Trip to Heaven and Chinese Roulette, and she has a small part in Fox and his Friends, that I know of, but this is her greatest moment.
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Loneliness, solitude, need and desire wrap themselves around this film built upon a virulent racism that bristles throughout. Incisive reflection of an unreconstructed Germany echoing across the differing cultures of yesteryear. It was no different in the UK in the 1970's and only changed within the 21st C.

A film which depicts a country not long out of the shadows of 1932-1945, with the lingering resonances spreading throughout the culture. There are some very neat scenarios of people standing staring aghast as the older woman takes her Moroccan lover into the bosom of Germany. The film is set in Bavaria, one of the most conservative of the Lander.

Exploring themes of race, age, need, friendship, desire and fear Fassbinder depicts both a story of stress and resilience. Within the despair is a hope as the couple begin to overcome the inherent prejudice. Part of the problem is the lack of foresight and planning to gradually introduce the relationship as everything takes place at a canter.

Whilst showing the hostility, Fassbinder also depicts the other elements which dissolve racism, when someone is needed for something, the barriers begin to wilt and also economics. The shopkeeper cannot keep on ignoring his customers if he wants them to use his shop.

The stress of illness is also explored and how it impacts upon the body, along with the everyday violence people face in trying to live their lives as if they were normal and the world around is abnormal. The impact upon "Ali" is gradual but corrosive as the tries to make it work.

Having dealt with this situation within psychotherapy, except different cultures English man married to a Japanese woman, it brought home to me the streams of emotional violence which exist to attack the relationship.

A very good poignant psychological treatise.
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on 14 August 2006
Fear Eats The Soul is one of the defining films of the New German Cinema movement of the late 60's and early 70's, and is perhaps the first true masterpiece by the maverick filmmaker, Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Fear Eats the Soul could also be seen as the first film that is characteristic of the director's trademark style; as he advances on the territory of earlier films like The Merchant Of Four Seasons and The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant, whilst all the while refining his style of camp Douglas Sirk-inspired melodrama, and spiralling emotional despair. Like the majority of the director's work, Fear Eats The Soul focuses on a relationship between two characters from different backgrounds, in this case, an elderly German woman and a Moroccan immigrant.

Like his later film, Fox and his Friends, Fear Eats The Soul uses the central relationship to comment on contemporary German society and their treatment of the outsider. In 'Fox', it was the shallow upper-classes who passed scorn on the working-class carnival worker, essentially using his capacity for love (and his naive understanding of human emotion) in order to get their hands on his recent lottery winnings. In 'Fear', however, the villains of the piece are the same working class characters that seemed so simple and idealised in the film yet to come; the close-friends, neighbours and co-workers who should be celebrating the relationship, instead... set out to destroy it. In 'Fear', Fassbinder is attempting to hold a mirror up to the latent racism of the post-war generation, drawing on the country's dark past and sense of collective historical guilt (...not just of Germany, but of Europe as a whole). However, he doesn't feel the need to limit himself to the idea of race and racism. As with 'Fox', which used homosexuality to define the central relationship - but not the arc of the story - 'Fear' uses race as a device to simply underline the closed-minded suspicion, pettiness and capacity for causing pain that is central to the genetic make up of all human beings.

Are the characters in opposition to the relationship really out to harm Emmi and Ali, or can they merely see that this kind of relationship can never work? Fassbinder presents both sides of the story - having Emmi and Ali living a blissful, loved-up relationship, whilst all around them family members are turning their backs and neighbours are starting to talk - only to later then flip the coin - by having the friends and family slowly begin to accept the relationship and even admire Ali - whilst behind closed-doors the once vibrant relationship is beginning to wilt. Fassbinder asks the audience to bring their own painful experiences to the film in order to better understand the character's plight and to see that ultimately, regardless of the opinions of those around us, it is our own feelings that will consume and eventually destroy us.

As with most of the films from his mid-period career, Fassbinder is always doing something interesting with the camera and production design, trying to visualise the connection and later the defragmentation of the relationship through his use of mise-en-scene. The first scene, in which Ali and Emmi meet, is a master class in forced perspectives; as Fassbinder uses the camera and positioning of the actors to isolate our two protagonists from the other customers in the bar. He also shoots through doorways; having characters together but constantly distanced by the jarring production design that is constantly getting in the way and (sub-textually?) splitting the characters apart. One of the most talked about scenes in the film is the legendary "sea of yellow chairs" moment, in which Emmi and Ali sit quietly at a road-side café, watched, suspiciously, by the motionless employees and segregated by a sea of empty, plastic yellow garden furniture. The use of colour, although subtle when compared to later films like Lola and Querelle, is quietly overwhelming, particularly in the way Fassbinder moves from drab, white interiors (Emmi's bourgeois existence) to the vibrancy of the outdoors or the textural shades of the local bar (Ali's more sinful domain).

The political points and the insights into modern German society are intelligent and add a certain depth to what could have easily become just another routine melodrama, with Fassbinder really managing to cut through the black and white aspects (pun intended) of human nature, by contrasting loving and nurturing behaviour with actions and dialog that would suggest something else. Fassbinder never falls into the trap of presenting cloying sentiment and always remains true - despite anything else - to the hope and spirit of his characters.

Whether you want to view it as a straight romantic melodrama, or as a treatise on race, age differences and/or society in general is ultimately up to you. Fassbinder never underlines the actions or moral/ideological standpoints of his film, instead, choosing to tell a story and allowing the audience to bring their own interpretations to it. The performances are strong throughout, with Brigitte Mira bringing out the loneliness and vulnerability of Emmi, but at the same time, retaining an element of strength. The role of Ali was written specifically for Fassbinder's one-time lover, El Hedi Ben Salem, who, although limited as a performer, does manage to present the various emotional shades of the character well, and creates a real human being, regardless of limitation. Tragically, Salem would take his break up with Fassbinder very badly, stabbing a person to death towards the end of the 1970's, and taking his own life whilst in prison in 1982. Fassbinder would die of a drug-overdose later that year.

Fear Eats The Soul is a film that is coloured by the various tragedies of Fassbinder's life, though it never panders to self-pity. Although fairly bleak, like a lot of his films, Fear Eats The Soul urges us to find hope in even the most hopeless of situations, and remains one of Fassbinder's most touching and beautiful works.
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on 26 February 2010
This is one of my favourite films: moving without being mawkish it deals with difficult themes without pretending to offer easy answers. At the same time it works at the level of melodrama infused with a shot of intelligence.
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VINE VOICEon 25 April 2013
This 1974 film, directed by Rainer Fassbinder, tackles not one, but two taboo subjects. The love of an older woman, for a much younger man, and the inter-racial aspect that he is an Arab.
The reaction of the family is much as you might expect, and the whole storyline is set against a background of increased immigration into Germany at that time. What makes the film stand out for me, is the central performance of the lead actress, Brigitte Mira. This dowdy, middle-aged lady delivers a magnificent performance, as the woman who is prepared to give up everything for the chance of happiness.
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on 6 November 2016
After a small delay the dvd arrived in good order. I played it and it is of excellent quality
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on 27 March 2011
Wow! What an amazing film. I highly recommend this film to all film buffs who love films with an emotionally human story. This one centres on two characters; Emmi a German,ageing cleaning lady and Ali, a young Moroccan working in Germany. The two come together through a chance meeting and the story starts to develop as their relationship does. The topics raised in this film are racism, prejudism, jealousy and ignorance. The two characters forge their love through these minefields with some humorous and disturbing moments that involve their friends and family. Simply brilliant.
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