In Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Fear Eats the Soul (Angst Essen Seele Auf, 1974) an ageing cleaning woman, Emmi (Brigitte Mira), marries a much younger, immigrant Moroccan mechanic, Ali (El Hedi ben Salem). Set in Munich during the 1970s, Fear Eats the Soul melds the conventions of melodrama with a radical sensibility in order to present a portrait of racism and everyday hypocrisy in post-war Germany. Emmi's family (including her slovenly and spiteful son-in-law Eugen, played by Fassbinder himself), neighbours and workmates turn against her viciously. It is a film about the way conventional society detests anything and anybody unfamiliar - but also a film about the hopes and limits of love. Intricately directed and designed to show Munich life in all its shabby kitchiness, and beautifully performed, Fear Eats the Soul may be Fassbinder's finest film. Laura Cottingham celebrates Fassbinder's achievement, placing Fear Eats the Soul in relation to his extraordinarily prolific career in theatre, film and television. Her analysis pulls back the thin curtain that separated his work from his tumultuous life. She also explores the director's debt to the lush Hollywood melodramas made by fellow-German Douglas Sirk, especially All That Heaven Allows (1955). In a detailed scene-by-scene analysis of Fear Eats the Soul, Cottingham shows how Fassbinder managed to combine beauty and tenderness with fierce political critique.