EDGE OF HEAVEN (AUF DER ANDEREN SEITE)
Germany, 2007, 122 minutes, Colour.
Nurgul Yesilcay, Baki Davrak, Tuncel Kurtiz, Hannah Schygulla, Patrycia Ziolkowska, Nursel Kose.
Directed by Fateh Akin.
Winner of the Ecumenical Award at Cannes and award for best screenplay.
Fatih Akin has made a tough film in the past about Turks living and working in Germany and the cultural differences and the demands the Germans make on the newcomers, Head On. He has also made a vivid documentary about Turkish popular music, Crossing the Bridge. The Edge of Heaven is also tough but more audience friendly because it deals with death and grief in a moving way.
Two deaths are noted before sections of the films begin, so we know who will die but not when and how. This makes for stronger tension. The first death is that of Yeter, an older Turkish prostitute living in Bremen who is befriended by the Turkish father of a young professor of German at a Hamburg University. He invites her to be his companion and live in his home. She accepts. In the meantime she is looking for her daughter who is studying in Istanbul, but she has lost touch with her (and has not told her about how she gains the money for her tuition). She asks the professor to help. When she is sadly killed, he goes back to Istanbul to search. He also decides to stay in Turkey and buys a German bookshop in Istanbul.
The second victim is a German girl, Lotte. Parallel to the story of Yeter and the professor, we see what has happened to the daughter. She has joined a militant group and narrowly avoided being arrested. She escapes to Germany and wants to find her mother. Hungry, she asks Lotte at random for money for food. Lotte is generous, invites her to stay at her mother’s house and begins a sexual relationship with her. The mother strongly disapproves but helps pay court costs concerning the girl’s deportation. Lotte follows her friend to Istanbul, where, in a sadly shocking scene, she is suddenly killed.
This is a film where paths cross without the characters seeing each other or meeting. Some have found this too schematic for a drama (and it is schematic). However, there is something gripping and emotional about the degrees of connection and separation – and the hopes that people will find each other. Here, this is left until after the film is over.
Action moves between Turkey and Germany with lively photography of Bremen, Hamburg, Istanbul and the Turkish countryside and the coast at Trabzon.
It is ultimately a film about reconciliation and forgiveness. The final shot, which is on the film’s advertising poster and which continues during the final credits, is of the young professor sitting with his back to the camera on the beach waiting for his father’s boat to come in. Not a word, but a glimpse of hope and peace.
1.A Turkish- German production? Perspectives? Universal meanings?
2.The acclaim and awards for the film? Ecumenical award?
3.The title, the German title of On The Other Side, On The Other Hand? English title, Edge of Heaven? The title of the third part of the film? The three titles within the film: The Death of Yeter, The Death of Lotte, Edge of Heaven?
4.The authentic German feel, Bremen and the homes, the streets, brothels? Hamburg and the university, cafeteria, lecture hall, Lotte's home? Trains, airports?
5.The authentic Turkish feel, the opening, the countryside, the sea, the shop, the open roads? Istanbul, airports, streets, apartments, the shop? Prison?
6.The prologue and its reprise at the end? The Edge of Heaven? The son, his driving, buying things at the shop, sitting at the beach? The end, going to see his father, his father fishing, sitting on the shore and waiting for his father? For the reconciliation?
7.The parallels in the structure of the film: the older two: Yeter and Ali, their lives intertwining, their care for their children, the absence of children, the presence of children? Each cutting off the parent? Aten and her relationship with Lotte? The mother's loss, the substitute daughter? Gaining a daughter, the father regaining his son?
8.Yeter's Death. Bremen, Ali, going to the brothel, his age, desire, widower, relationship with his son, the sexual favours, the relationship with Yeter, the return, the proposal? The Turks on the tram and their religious ideas, warning Yeter to repent? Ali at home, the son, the meal, introducing Yeter, at ease?
9.Yeter and her life, her lies about her work, in the shoe shop, her daughter, separation, the proposal by Ali, her decision to accept, the meal, the races, her joy, the possibilities, the friendship with Nejat, their talking, Ali's jealousy? Her standing up for herself, independence, Ali hitting her, her death?
10.Ali, his friendliness to Yeter, his suspicions of his son, his pride, anger, her death? The arrest, going to jail, serving his sentence, getting out, the return to Turkey, going to his home in the countryside, going fishing? Cut off from his son?
11.Nejat, his life, alone, looking after his father, lecturing, his intellectual background, his meeting Yeter? The lectures, Aten sleeping? His friendship with Yeter, the coffin going back to Istanbul, his accompanying it, his searching for the daughter, the posters around the city, the help of his cousin, going to the shop, the decision to buy the shop, settling back into Turkey?
12.Lotte's Death. Aten and her life in Turkey, the group, the gun, the demonstrations, her escape? In Germany, searching for her mother, unable to find her, thinking that she worked in a shoe shop? Hungry, sleeping out, the cafeteria, approaching Lotte, the issue of the money, the meal, going home, Suzanne and her wariness, Lotte giving her the clothes, sharing, going out dancing, the sexual relationship? Her swearing and talking defiantly to Suzanne, Suzanne and the arguments about the European Union? Driving with Lotte, the issue of the ID, her arrest, appealing for asylum, in the court, the decisions, her deportation? Suzanne helping her because of Lotte?
13.Lotte in herself, meeting Aten, the reaction, background of India, like her mother, her absent father, helping, moving in, the relationship, her decision to go to Turkey?
14.Suzanne, her husband gone, devoted to Lotte, spending her time watching her daughter, looking out the windows, the confrontation with Aten, Lotte leaving, the phone calls from Turkey?
15.Aten, going to prison, the visit of Lotte, with the inmates in the prison, the issue of the gun, demonstrations? The political issues? Lotte's arrival, trying to get permissions to see Aten, going to the shop, staying with Nejat, getting the gun, in the street, the boys stealing it, shooting her, her coffin going back to Germany?
16.Suzanne, her grief, with the authorities, at the hotel, meeting Nejat, talking, sharing, the meal, going to Lotte's room, asking to stay?
17.Aten and the possibilities of release, her compromise, the effect of Lotte's death? Meeting Suzanne, changing, apologising, the visit, staying with Suzanne?
18.Nejat and his going to The Edge of Heaven, the reconciliation? Signs of hope?
19.The insights into contemporary politics, Europe, Germany, Turkey, the European Union, mixed societies, traditions? The common sense of humanity?