Auf der anderen Seite (2007) Fatih Akin

Thursday, April 08, 2010

English title: The Edge of Heaven

Flatmate and I are each on our laptops watching movies. She's laughing at her sitcom, while I am watching this sad film about families, love, Germany, Turkey, and death.

The film was introduced at a lecture in the European Studies course I am taking at uni this semester, on migration in Europe. I have long realised that I am biased to only foreign movies in French, so this seemed like a good way to immerse myself into other cultural cinemas. This is my first German-Turkish film that I have seen. Also, since I missed out on the lecture, this seemed like a good way to 'revise'.

There are several parts to the movie, which keeps coming back and intertwining. Here are bits of the story. If you don't want to know, then don't read on!

There are three parts to the film. A Turkish mother who works as a prostitute in Germany, who gets involved with a Turkish man in Germany, who has a son teaching German in a German university. She dies, so the son goes searching for her daughter in Turkey; he ends up in a German bookstore in Turkey in the mean time. The daughter is hard to find because she is involved in a political movement wanting rights of the poor to education and better standards of living. She goes to Germany to look for her mother, can't, but befriends a German girl. She gets caught and is refused political asylum so is taken back to Turkey. The German girl goes to Turkey to help the daughter. She meets the bookshop owner and rents room from him. While trying to help her friend, she dies. The German girl's mum comes over from Germany to fulfill her dead daughter's wish to help the Turkish girl, starting with contacting the bookshop owner. The bookshop owner has lost hope of finding the daughter of the Turkish mother.

The lives of all these characters are tied to each other with invisible strings, thin yet still there, all tangled up together without any of them realising. Towards the end I get scared that the bookshop owner will never find the Turkish daughter, even though they are very very close together. It is frustrating to be the viewer of the wider picture. Perhaps this is how God would feel looking down at us humans here?

Some of the scenes I remember the most are when the female revolutionaries are taken by the police, and each of them shout their names to the people outside before being pushed into the police van. As the van drives off, the Turkish public applauds them, like heroes. We thus know which side the citizens are on. Another political reference is made when the German mother suggests that everything in Turkey may go well when it is accepted into the EU. But the Turkish girl does not believe in the EU, since it is still the colonial (?!) system she and her revolutionaries are fighting against. The sequences of the German mother in a Turkish hotel room was especially moving for me. She at first seemed mad to be there, then she lets her emotion go, crying out loudly over the loss of her daughter, to whom her last words were quite harsh. Her movements as she cries are a mourning dance, like a small child who's lost. It had me in (almost) tears (it's quite hard to be in the mood when someone is laughing uncontrollably across the room at something else).

There are quite a few points to consider after watching this film. Argh, better go and think some more so I can hand something in after the holidays.

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