Ali: Fear Eats The Soul (1974)


Second time with Fassbinder (after Merchant of Four Seasons – which is better)

“People always say ‘but’…”: hard to shake the feeling of contrarianism, even recklessness at the beginning (past marriage). ‘Why not?’ and ‘Who cares?’ when answers are legion. Ali is most touching when this bravery caves into the vulnerability in the poster above. (later Ali dismissive “kif-kif” [I don’t care] lashes out at Emmi’s conciliation)

‘Not a good man…’ – ‘Neither good nor bad, like anyone else.’ Ingrained ‘normality’, thus Ali and Emmi are “unnatürlich“: a threat both to order and ‘good taste’, which have become fused; see in particular the waiter’s scornful invocation of decorum, Emmi “on the rack”.

Thus Emmi’s reintegration is expedient, decorous, political. “In business you have to hide your aversions” says the shopkeeper, reclaiming a customer from both the nearby supermarket and the peril of racial mixing; it is the man to whom Emmi is perhaps most defiant who begins to reel her back in (away).

If their vulnerability is when A is most real, then E’s reintegration is, to us, ironically and perversely ‘unnatural’. Foucault’s “technologies of the self”, taking it upon oneself to do what’s expected, to become a Citizen. (interesting that Authorities [landlord’s son, policemen] are most understanding, forgiving; no imposed doctrine)

Imagine the first half of this film: its that. Not to take away from its importance in 1974 but.

If MOFS won Best Fake Punching then this is a contender for Best Fake Crying. 

F himself, fag-addled cursing and flailing in an easy chair. Perverse pleasure in playing the Villain, in thus being a voyeur? (‘Look at his muscles!’ says natürlich Emmi) But as static waiters stare, panning camera among the yellow chairs prevents us from joining them. Less pessimistic than I’d been led to believe; that vulnerability also in Ali arms akimbo ‘I love you this much!!’



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