In a pub frequented by foreigners, the circa sixty-year old widow Emmi Kurowski (Brigitte Mira) – a cleaning lady who entered the place to get away from the rain – meets the Moroccan Ali (El Hedi Ben Salem), at least twenty years her junior. Ali dances with Emmi, they chat, he accompanies her home. He moves in with her. In the end they get married. For the others, this marriage is a scandal: Emmi’s grown children are embarrassed, the neighbors whisper, the green grocer asks her to leave his shop, the colleagues despise her. The pressure subsides in the end, Emmi and Ali observe their inner problems more clearly. Ali starts to see his former girlfriend Barbara (Barbara Valentin) again. When Emmi attempts to get him back and the two of them dance like at the beginning of their encounter, Ali has a breakdown. The doctor diagnoses a burst ulcer. Emmi stays with Ali, she holds his hand. Production year: 197374. Direction, Script: Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Director of Photography: Jürgen Jürges. Music: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, archival music.

Curator’s sight:

“Fear eats the soul,” Alì wisely tells Emmi during their first meeting, in his grammatically incorrect German. A phrase that foreshadows the painful and revolutionary path they will have to take in order to affirm their love and free themselves from dynamics of oppression and violence, of which they will be both the victims and the perpetrators from time to time. The film paints the merciless portrait of a conformist bourgeoisie in which the ghost of Nazism is still dangerously present.


Brigitte Mira, El Hedi ben Salem, Barbara Valentin, Irm Hermann


Rainer Werner Fassbinder



Film Editing

Thea Eymèsz


Jürgen Jürges


Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Archivmusik


Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Archivmusik

Bonus Content

Visar Morina
8 mins

Visar Morina, director of EXILE, presents ALI FEAR EATS THE SOUL