Close Up

20 March 2016: Take Two: All that Heaven Allows / Ali: Fear Eats the Soul


All that Heaven Allows
Douglas Sirk
1955 | 89 min | Colour | Digital

"With her husband dead and her children off at college, it seems that Cary Scott (Wyman) will resign herself to the quiet, dignified life of the lonely New England widow – that is, until she encounters the virile young workman who tends her landscaping (Hudson). Scandal ensues. As much as the plot line is bound by the conventions of 1950s Hollywood "women’s pictures," under Sirk’s direction the film delivers an unusually perceptive critique of small-town social prejudice and the power it wields over the lives of individuals. As testament to the film’s enduring appeal, All That Heaven Allows has inspired two highly acclaimed adaptations, R. W. Fassbinder’s Fear Eats the Soul (1973) and, more recently, Todd Haynes’s Far From Heaven (2002)." – Harvard Film Archive

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
1974 | 93 min | Colour | Digital

Fassbinder, already the director of almost twenty films by the age of twenty-nine, paid homage to his cinematic hero, Douglas Sirk, with this updated version of All That Heaven Allows. Lonely widow Emmi Kurowski meets Arab worker Ali in a bar during a rainstorm. They fall in love – to their own surprise – and to the shock of family, colleagues, and drinking buddies. In Fear Eats The Soul, Fassbinder expertly uses the emotional power of the melodrama to underscore the class and racial tensions threatening German culture.