(2007) dir. Fatih Akin
After reading about writer/director Fatih Akin’s The Edge of Heaven, I was eager to see it in the theater, and though I failed to do that, I did watch his previous film Head-On (2004), which I really liked. Fatih Akin is one of my most recent personal discoveries and his films I recommend to everyone I can.
Akin is a German of Turkish descent, or however you might say that properly. In America we have all these hyphonated ways of describing people’s national backgrounds, and while that is perhaps a fairly modern conceit, America has by definition had to deal with the world of multicultural immigrants as part of its make-up and character. I don’t know the full scope of Turkish and German relationships, but I am not ignorant of the cultural estrangement, the split-personality of these highly contrasting cultures and their relationships and the identities that are molded out of this particular world.
This is Akin’s world. His narratives are very much about the crisis of identity in these worlds, but far from limited to such a specific issue. Akin’s films are about the people, rich characters that he develops across the strata of society, both in Germany and in Turkey.
The Edge of Heaven, which I have read is actually more accurately translated to On the Other Side from the German title Auf der anderen Seite, is about the movement of characters between the two worlds: Istanbul and Bremen, mostly, but very much the two countries, the two cultures, the two worlds. What moves the characters are the deaths of two women, around which the film is structured.
The other very profound thing in Akin’s films is the humanity imbued in all of the characters and the drama. The films deal greatly with death and mortality, with love and dissociation, identity and humanity. There is a profundity in his work that is tremendously moving and powerful, something connective and real. I am not the first to notice this, I mean, I read about his work in the New Yorker, The New York Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle among others.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to see his films, you should try to find the opportunity. It’s surely worth the effort.