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GordonCole

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

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I'm gonna be honest and say when I first saw this title back in the 1970's, being a pugilism fan I thought it was a biopic about G.O.A.T. and I was wondering who would play Sonny Liston in it.

Had not seen it before last night, but was struck by how cleverly Rainer Werner Fassbinder used the storyline from Sirk's, All That Heaven Allows but really made a unique film but with totally different elements and some interesting alterations and transpositions to the original story by Edna Lee, who I recall also wrote the novel, Queen Bee, which was also about a certain level of society not dissimilar.

While Cary in the Sirk film gets an unwanted tv from her kids for Christmas, in Fassbinder's film, Emmi's son kicks in the screen of her tv when it is revealed that she has married Ali. During one close-up outside between Emmi and Ali, I was transfixed with the faces of Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson appearing simultaneously in my mind, as if the characters were a ghostly presence.

When Ali goes to the bartendress and owner's apartment and stands before her bedroom window, again the figure of Rock Hudson standing in front of the giant window he constructed in his new mill home was envisioned again. The fact that Fassbinder was able to evoke such images without the film being a total remake in all details was fascinating. 

People seemingly never change and resent anyone going outside the circle of what they consider the norm, and both films show this aspect of society well. It is only when it becomes imperative for other reasons than civility, that Emmi's grocery owner, friends, fellow employees and apartment dwellers find reasons that her enmity is dangerous to their lives that they pretend to accept the situation. The ending again parallels the Sirk film, with the romance threatened in a physical way outside of people's emotional response to it. All in all, a satisfying take on society and its morals almost twenty years after the first go round by Sirk.

Sadly no mention of Ali or Emmi reading about Thoreau's Walden Pond in this film.

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One of my favorites of his, and one of the few works of his I have watched all the way through.  Painful, magnificent, unflinchingly honest.  It's a story about people who decide to accept an incredible gift of happiness, instead of turning it down because of their own self-imposed limitations or the limitations others would impose on them.  

I don't see this movie as a remake/rehash of All That Heaven Allows.  The theme of inappropriate romance is common in literature and movies.  And he was using it as much to explore the racial/ethnic aspect of their relationship, as well as the psycho-social one.  However I will pay attention the next time I stumble on the movies.  I will admit I've never been able to get more than about half-way through Heaven.  

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Very beautiful film. My favorite scenes are where the group of women shun Emmi on the stairs but then after gaining back their respect Emmi shuns the new Slavic immigrant woman in the exact same way. I think the ending would have been sadder reversed with Emmi in the hospital bed and the audience unsure whether Ali will stay with her or go back to the Couscous woman.

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19 hours ago, GordonCole said:

I'm gonna be honest and say when I first saw this title back in the 1970's, being a pugilism fan I thought it was a biopic about G.O.A.T.

YEAH. When I saw the thread title, I thought it was some Mohammad Ali movie. I'm glad I opened the thread for a look. I've never heard of this film and reading the posts, it's definitely intriguing!

Thanks!

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19 hours ago, GordonCole said:

I'm gonna be honest and say when I first saw this title back in the 1970's, being a pugilism fan I thought it was a biopic about G.O.A.T. and I was wondering who would play Sonny Liston in it.
 

:o

I never saw it.  You mean, it ISN'T about ALI McGRAW???  :o  :rolleyes:

Sepiatone

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I do not usually watch foreign movies, but I caught ALI FEAR EATS THE SOUL on TCM ON DEMAND a year ago, back before I switched to HULU (aka, back when i had to depend on the dozen movies offered at a time by SPECTRUM on TCM ON DEMAND for my only viewing possibilities)

In fact, I probably would not have watched it had the selection of titles for TCM been so paltry at the time (I remember turning to it as a last resort.)

I ended up being completely sucked in.

(as a funny aside, according to the wiki and imdb trivia entries for the movie, the title is actually ALI FEAR EAT SOUL, which is the literal translation of what the character says, language mistakes and all.)

heaven_fear.png

as a big fan of ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (although, LORD HELP ME, I cannot tell you just why i am, I just am ); I 100% see this film as an intentional re-imagining of the SIRK movie (as is, to a lesser degree, John Water's suburban smellodrama POLYESTER.)

All three films would make a great triple feature for aspiring writers.

I myself am working on an unconventional retelling of a classic film myself, and can appreciate the thought and ingenuity that went into composing this movie from such an unusual genesis.

I remember being struck by how astoundingly prescient the scenes of the washerwomen having lunch and discussing the issues of the day seemed at the time. as i recall, they reference the recent MUNICH OLYMPICS terrorism; when I watched this, the BREXIT vote and the election of you-know-who had happened fairly recently, and it opened my eyes in that wonderful way classic films have of opening my eyes to the fact that: the problems we think are unique to modern life have, in fact, been around in some form or another for a looooooooooooong time.

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19 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

:o

I never saw it.  You mean, it ISN'T about ALI McGRAW???  :o  :rolleyes:

Sepiatone

No Sepia, evidently it isn't. 

(...but then again, love means never having to say you saw it)

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Well, for those that missed seeing it (or missed seeing it again), it is available on WATCH TCM ON-DEMAND until Feb 3, 2019.

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On 1/29/2019 at 9:26 AM, LornaHansonForbes said:

I do not usually watch foreign movies, but I caught ALI FEAR EATS THE SOUL on TCM ON DEMAND a year ago, back before I switched to HULU (aka, back when i had to depend on the dozen movies offered at a time by SPECTRUM on TCM ON DEMAND for my only viewing possibilities)

In fact, I probably would not have watched it had the selection of titles for TCM been so paltry at the time (I remember turning to it as a last resort.)

I ended up being completely sucked in.

I also saw this movie On Demand awhile back and like you was totally captivated. 

I didn't learn until later that screenwriter/director Rainer Werner Fassbinder also played Emmi's son-in-law in the movie.

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2 hours ago, BagelOnAPlateOfOnionRolls said:

I also saw this movie On Demand awhile back and like you was totally captivated. 

I didn't learn until later that screenwriter/director Rainer Werner Fassbinder also played Emmi's son-in-law in the movie.

and he's really good in the part too.

You may know this already, but if you read up on the film's wikipedia and imdb entries, both include some disturbing claims made about him by the actress who plays his wife in the movie.

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