The Edge of Heaven (original title German: Auf der anderen Seite) is a 2007 Turkish-German drama written and directed by Fatih Akın. The film won the Prix du scénario (Best Screenplay) at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. It was Germany’s entry in the category Best Foreign Language Film at the 2007 Oscars but was not nominated.
The movie is split into two parts, each dedicated to someone’s death i.e. Yeter’s death and Lotte’s death. So we know from the beginning who is going to die, the question is how he or she is going to die. Interesting concept really.
The movie begins with a retired widower Ali Aksu (Tuncel Kurtiz), a Turkish immigrant living in the German city of Bremen, who believes he has found a solution to his loneliness when he meets a Turkish prostitute, Yeter Öztürk (Nursel Köse). He offers her a monthly payment to stop working as a prostitute and move in with him. After receiving threats from two Turkish Muslims, she decides to accept his offer. Ali’s son Nejat (Baki Davrak), a professor of German literature, met Yeter a few times and one of memorable speech Yeter made was that she wants to see her 27-year-old daughter, and her only wish is that her daughter does not fall into the same fate as she is and that she receives an education like Nejat. As predicted, Yeter died so Baki set out to find Yeter’s daughter.
Nejat travels to Istanbul to search for Yeter’s daughter, Ayten (Nurgül Yeşilçay). When he posts a flyer in a small German language bookstore that happens to be for sale, he finds himself charmed into buying it. Ayten turns out to a member of Turkish Communist resistance group. When her cell is raided, she flees Turkey and takes up a new identity with political allies in Bremen, Germany. With a twist of fate, she met Lotte (Patrycia Ziolkowska, who we know is going to die by now), a university student, offers to help her with food, clothes, and a place to stay—a gesture which is not particularly welcomed by her mother, Susanne (Hanna Schygulla). Ayten and Lotte become lovers and Lotte decides to help Ayten search for her mother.
I am going to start with a cliché to say that I know a good movie when I find difficulty in summarising the movie in the few words. Very rarely in a movie with many characters you will find development of characters of any kind but these six characters of Ali, Nejat, Yeter, Ayten, Lotte and Susanne have their own spot in the limelight and each of them shine in a most heartbreaking and profound way. If there is one character whom I thought the actor hasn’t done enough it would be Ayten, played by Turkish famous actress and beauty, Nurgül Yeşilçay. Her emotion felt forced but I thought she played a lesbian activist good enough to be convincing.
I like the way how the lives of the six characters intertwined and how each of them have one way or another cross each other’s path without the other knowing it. The movie didn’t end with a tidy or clean ending but implied a happier ending, the film exudes youthful love and ignorance, parental love and forgiveness. The film would mean sometimes we have to give up your ideals and live a normal life or that love don’t always have a happy ending or sometimes you have to let your daughter take her own path, even if the path leads to death; whichever way you see it, you may see something different from what I saw. I like movie of such that doesn’t need to conform in a neat box or mass manufactured canned happiness such as those from Hollywood. Each character took his or her own path, they made mistakes along the way and some ended up behind bars and some unfortunately died.
I don’t want to risk talking anymore about the movie without giving anything away. This is my first Turkish and a German film for a very long time (since Run Lola Run 1998) and I must say I am deeply moved by the film. I spent the next half an hour watching the special feature of Fatih Akin’s interview and he comes across profound, intelligent and very instinctive. A director which is a force to reckon, particularly in the German and Turkish speaking world and in world cinema.
“I have always tried to interact with my actors; I don’t try to be the boss. Sometimes they have better ideas than what I have written on paper. It’s very instinctive how I choose actors.”
I think I am going to watch anything that has Fatih Akin’s name stamped on it. I encourage you to watch too, even if it is just to get a perspective of the Turkish-German connection. The movie deserves its accolades.
(Note: I watched this on the 27th September 2013)
About the director:
Fatih Akin was born in 1973 in Hamburg of Turkish parentage. While studying Visual Communications at Hamburg’s College of Fine Arts, he wrote and directed his first short in 1995: Sensin – You’re The One (SENSIN – DU BIST ES!), which received the Audience Award at the Hamburg International Short Film Festival, followed by Weed (GETUERKT, 1996). His first feature,Short Sharp Shock (KURZ UND SCHMERZLOS, 1998), won Locarno’s Bronze Leopard and the Bavarian Film Award for Best Young Director.
His fourth work, Head-On (Gegen die Wand), starring Sibel Kekilli, was a major success in 2004 and received several prizes, among them the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival and the “Best Film” and the “Audience Award” at the 2004 European Film Awards.