Revisiting the Classics: Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

  • Tuesday, October 24, 2023 / 7:00 PM - 9:15 PM (PDT)
  • Pollock Theater
  • Screening Format: Sony 2K digital projection (94 minutes)
  • With Timothy Corrigan (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
    Starring: Brigitte Mira, El Hedi ben Salem

Adapted from the classic melodrama All That Heaven Allows (Sirk, 1955), Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s loving homage to his cinematic hero, Douglas Sirk. Refracting the original film’s examination of love across the boundaries of class, family convention, and social propriety through the racial dynamics of Fassbinder’s native Germany, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul centers on the widow Emmi (Brigitte Mira) and her relationship with Ali (El Hedi ben Salem), an Arab laborer many years her junior. As their love flourishes, it runs up against the shock, disapproval, and disdain of their racially stratified social world.

Timothy Corrigan, (Cinema and Media Studies, English and the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania) joined moderator Patrice Petro (Dick Wolf Director, Carsey-Wolf Center) for a post-screening discussion of Ali: Fear Eats the Soul.

This event was presented in conjunction with our special roundtable discussion, Criticism Now: Film Writing for a Culture.


An image of professor Timothy Corrigan. An older man with silver hair and glasses wears a grey suit jacket, sitting in front of a wall of books.

Timothy Corrigan (University of Pennsylvania)

Timothy Corrigan is Professor Emeritus of English and Cinema Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His work in cinema studies has focused on contemporary international cinema and documentary film. Books include New German Film: The Displaced Image (Indiana University Press, 1983), The Films of Werner Herzog: Between Mirage and History (Routledge, 1968), Writing about Film (9th ed., Longman/Pearson, 2014), A Cinema without Walls: Movies and Culture after Vietnam (Routledge/Rutgers University Press, 1991), Film and Literature: An Introduction and Reader (2nd ed., Routledge, 2012), and The Essay Film: From Montaigne, After Marker (Oxford University Press, 2011).

A headshot of Professor of Film and Media Studies, Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center, and Presidential Chair in Media Studies, Patrice Petro. The image depicts a woman with black hair, wearing a black blazer, with a floral button up shirt. She is smiling and posed in front of a set of doors.

Moderator Patrice Petro

Patrice Petro is Professor of Film and Media Studies, Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center, and Presidential Chair in Media Studies. She is the author, editor, and co-editor of fourteen books, including Uncanny Histories in Film and Media Studies (2022), The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Gender (with Kristin Hole, Dijana Jelaca, and E. Ann Kaplan, 2017), Teaching Film (2012), Idols of Modernity: Movie Stars of the 1920s (2010), Rethinking Global Security: Media, Popular Culture, and the “War on Terror” (2006), and Aftershocks of the New: Feminism and Film History (2002). She served two terms as President of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the largest U.S. professional organization for college and university educators, filmmakers, historians, critics, scholars, and others devoted to the study of the moving image.

 This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center.

Revisiting the Classics

What happens when a film becomes a “classic”? The Carsey-Wolf Center’s 2023-24 feature series Revisiting the Classics engages creatively and critically with our filmic past, approaching it with fresh eyes and novel interpretive lenses. Not simply a celebration of the “great works,” Revisiting the Classics will consider how classic texts have shaped the work of contemporary filmmakers, how complicated questions of politics and aesthetics emerge through practices of adaptation and interpretation, and how the changing landscape of film distribution, archiving, preservation, and critique affects the formation of canon and the making of new “classics.”