Ali: Fear Eats the Soul(1974)
German Subtlety: An Oxymoron?
Actually the German characteristic seen usually as humorless and objective
analysis of motivation is capable of great subtlety. It comes across as a
blatant slap in the face subsequently revealed by introspective dialogue
camera work to consist of several layers of social commentary. In this
the viewer is placed in an uncomfortable position of having to endure a
of visceral commiseration with a totally absurd set of misfitted main
characters while simultaneously working through his own emotional response
to the true-to-life situations they encounter. In that it shows
to be completely oblivious to sentimentality, the great bugbear of most
German literary art.
The well-worn roadmap of twentieth-century German history is reflected in
the dour but soft lines of aging actress Brigitte Mira's face as widow
Personal tragedy is implicit in her character, never suggesting, however,
any need for condolence; rather, there is a sense of determination as
profound as may be seen in any younger or more appealing heroine on task
make her life whole. That she embarks on a quixotic venture to do so is
funny and sombre at the same time.
I think it is a mistake to rely solely on the notion that this is just
another anti-racist, anti-bourgeois tract. It is as well a very
sophisticated portrayal of all the dimensions of love in all its forms,
similar to the oft-cited precursor film "Harold and Maude." While not
replete with any complex twists of plot, it is nevertheless a many-layered
and engrossing slice of life that is accessible to a wide variety of
That is what excellent filmmaking is all about.