Fear eats up the soul

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Original title Fear eats up the soul
Country of production Federal Republic of Germany (FRG)
original language German
Publishing year 1974
length 89 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Rainer Werner Fassbinder
script Rainer Werner Fassbinder
production Rainer Werner Fassbinder
music Rainer Werner Fassbinder
camera Jürgen Juerges
cut Thea Eymèsz

Fear Eats the Soul is a German melodrama by the director Rainer Werner Fassbinder from 1974. The film is about an older woman who falls in love with a younger Moroccan and marries him.


Emmi Kurowski, a widowed cleaning lady over 60, enters a pub in Munich - partly because it is raining, partly out of curiosity about where the strange music comes from. The pub is the meeting place for some Arabic-speaking guest workers. Because he has nothing better to do and is encouraged to do so by the landlady, Ali, a Moroccan who is around twenty years his junior and with moderately good knowledge of German, invites Emmi to dance. They talk, he accompanies her home, and is even allowed to spend the night with her. As things progress, feelings develop between the two of them, and despite the beginning of a hostile mood among Emmi's children, neighbors and colleagues, the two finally marry after the landlord's son criticized Ali as an inadmissible subtenant (according to the rental agreement).

But the couple's difficulties persist: the neighbors blaspheme, their colleagues in the cleaning crew cut Emmi, and the grocer Angermayer refuses to serve Ali first and then she himself. Emmi's three children are stunned - their son Bruno even steps into their television in anger. Desperate about all the hostility, Emmi bursts into tears during a visit to the beer garden, where she and Ali are not served by the waiters, but only gawked at, and both decide to catch up on their honeymoon and then dare to start again.

Indeed, after returning home, the world looks completely different. The couple is apparently accepted, albeit for selfish reasons: Angermayer had realized that he did not want to forego Emmi's sales as a customer; Emmi's children need her as a babysitter; the neighbors can use a strong and, above all, resilient man in the house, and the colleagues find a new victim to break their mouths over. They also find that Ali does not correspond to the stereotype of the dirty, lazy foreigner that they (and not only they) have in mind.

But with the apparent acceptance, the problems between Emmi and Ali arise: The atmosphere between them becomes frostier. When Emmi begins to treat Ali as a useful object instead of as a person with the need for tenderness and affection, Ali goes back to the pub where this film started more often and gets both from the landlady Barbara. He stays with her and at some point doesn't come home to Emmi at all until she visits him in the pub, where he invites her to dance, just like when they first met. She explains to him that she understands his needs, that she wants to give him his freedom, but that he should come back please - then Ali collapses: In the hospital, a doctor explains that Ali has a stomach ulcer , like so many foreign workers who do suffer from the bad conditions. Since guest workers are not allowed to stay at a health resort and can only be operated on, experience has shown that the ulcer will keep coming back. Emmi is crying at Ali's bedside.


As with his film Dealer of the Four Seasons (1972), Fassbinder was inspired by Douglas Sirks ' films for Angst Eating Soul . In particular, his film Was der Heaven (1955) should be mentioned here, which provided the structural model. Fear eats the soul connects the Hollywood melodrama Serk with the observation of everyday German reality. In contrast to many films of the time, Fassbinder did not use Michael Ballhaus's camera work . Instead, Jürgen Jürges' photographic aesthetic relied on a straightforward narrative style appropriate to the subject. The visual implementation should not detract from the actual story. With a budget of approx. DM 260,000, the film is one of the less expensive Fassbinder films. Fassbinder himself played the role of Emmi Kurowski's unfriendly son-in-law.

The grammatically incorrect title is a quote from the film and reflects the protagonist Ali's limited knowledge of German.

The film premiered on March 5, 1974 in Munich . It was first shown on German television on July 25, 1977 on ZDF .


Fear eat soul on won, among other things, critic prizes at the Cannes Film Festival in 1974 and the German Film Prize in gold for Brigitte Mira as best leading actress.


“[...] Melodrama that analyzes the disregard for minorities and the mechanisms of social oppression with cool brilliance . At the same time popular and bitterly ironic telling, Fassbinder seeks a broad audience without denying personal obsessions and without losing any of its critical sharpness. - Worth seeing from 16. "


The film, which influenced filmmakers all over the world, also exists in a theatrical version by the author. In 2003 Yılmaz Arslan Filmproduktion GmbH also produced Shahbaz Noshir's short film Fear Eats Soul , which tries to capture the true story of a xenophobic attack on an actor in the theater version on the way to the theater with a subjective camera .

The title was also used for the German version of an episode of the American television series The Simpsons .

The title has also evolved over time to a dictum developed will replace the "fear" or "soul" by a topic-specific expression.

See also


  • Rüdiger Graf: "the most insidious and most effective instrument of social oppression". Community and society in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's "Fear Eats the Soul". In: Martin Baumeister, Moritz Föllmer, Philipp Müller (eds.): The art of history. Historiography, aesthetics, narration . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2009, pp. 373–392.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Release certificate for fear eats up the soul . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , May 2014 (PDF; test number: 46 094-a K).
  2. ^ Filmdienst.de and Spiegel.de .
  3. Fear eats up the soul. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed November 11, 2015 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  4. Fear eats up the soul. In: simpsonspedia.net .
  5. Example: Fear eats freedom of expression ( memento of the original from March 17, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. or fear eat up interest. In: sueddeutsche.de . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / blog.stecki.de