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Ali All That Heaven Allows Analysis

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Rainer Werner Fassbinder updates Douglas Sirk’s 1955 All That Heaven Allows and gives it an overt and somewhat unforgiving political twist in his 1974 film, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. A director takes a great artistic risk when admittedly endeavoring to remake an already genre-acclaimed classic; but rather than being derivative, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is a fresh commentary on the xenophobic zeitgeist of post-Nazi Germany. Both films center on the lonely lives of widows who meet and fall in love with a younger man, only to have this love deemed forbidden by social prejudices. Though updated, the film is still replete with similarities to its predecessor, and this is what distinguishes it as a homage to Fassbinder’s icon, Sirk, after all. A close examination of the original will clarify the film’s basic tenets and make the inspirations on which Fassbinder drew more visible. All That Heaven Allows is a melodrama, taking place in the 1950s. It chronicles a chapter in the life of Cary Scott, an upper-class widow in the autumn of her life, whose life is turned upside-down when she falls in love with her much younger gardener, Ron. Ron is somewhat of a dissident to the society which Cary is so immersed in—he reads Thoreau, takes more pride in his greenhouse than his actual house, and can probably name more species of trees than residents of the town. Rather than a disconnect, Cary and Ron experience a mutual fascination with each other—much to the dismay of Cary’s high-brow
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