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Evaluating Auf der Anderen Seite in Terms of Spatial Change and Turkish German Identity...

 Can Küçükali-Sitemiz Yazarı
ODTÜ Sosyal Bilimler / Yüksek Lisans Öğrencisi

(This is the first part of the article Evaluating Auf der Anderen Seite in Terms of Spatial Change and Turkish German Identity Representations )

Evaluating Auf der Anderen Seite in Terms of Spatial Change and Turkish German Identity Representations

Turkish German cinema tries to stave its shell by representing a more multi-faceted image of Turkish immigrants as well as Turkish German spaces and overcome the stereotypes that we have been watching for thirty years. For sure, Fatih Akın is one of the most salient figures of that era with his peculiar style and reinterpretation of the notions like being inbetween, victimization, cultural conflict and communication. In this respect, Auf der Anderen Seite could be considered as the most successful work of Fatih Akın because it goes beyond the deconstruction of the cliches of Turkish-German space theretoTurkish German identity and common affections as well as problems of the humanity prevail all other kind of contradictions due to ethnic/cultural differences.

One important character we should focus on is Nejat. Nejat represents a new type of Turk that we have not seen in the other Turkish German movies as well as in other movies of Fatih Akın before. He is a middle class Turkish German professor in a German university. He is not a victim because of his Turkishness and doesn�t have any problem with German language and culture. He is neither assimilated nor discriminated. He knows the skills of communication in both cultural spaces but he does not show a banal nationalist behaviour. It could be said that there is a consciousness of being inbetween but the romanticization of being inbetween is minimal when we look at the features of Nejat. This is also true for other characters, even for Ali who is a first generation Turkish German. But Nejat adds a new dimension to Turkish German figures and I think that multi-class representation of Turks is a revolutionary attempt for Turkish German cinema. It is revolutionary because it extends the limits of ethnic/cultural conflicts and opens a new space for alternative representations such as class-based conflicts, internal conflicts of the heros and political conflicts which are more universal and core.

Another point is the change of stereotypical representation of Turkey as a place of hope and ultimate happiness. Even the process of development in Turkish-German space and its reflection to Turkish German identity is observed peculiarly in Fatih Akın cinema, it is obvious that there is a shift to a more realistic representation of Turkey. In Kurz und Schmerzlos, Gabriel was decided to go to Turkey after killing the mafia boss and we didn�t know anything about his doubtful future in Turkey. In Gegen die Wand, Cahit was telling to Şeref that he would go to Turkey in order to find Sibel. Again it was a dramatic scene and Cahit would search for happiness in Turkey like Gabriel who was also searching for happiness in Turkey although his departure was an escape.

However, we have also witnessed Cahit�s first and perhaps the most significant frustration in the homeland. Sibel did not join him when he was going to Mersin (his hometown). So, the representation of Turkey as a space of conflict and problems as well as hope has started with Gegen die Wand and deepened in Auf der Anderen Seite. Auf der Anderen Seite is also the eyewitness and participation of Germans to the Turkish space for the first time because of several problems. It is clear that this vision of Turkey is very much compatible with the reality of life rather than the depiction of a desired land especially for the Turkish Germans who could not be successful in Germany.

We may say that the representation of Turkish space becomes also a hybrid in which hope and happiness intermingle with sorrow and disappointment. Fictional space in which all positive meanings are attributed to Turkey starts to be realized and neutralized by the director. But it is important to indicate that Turkish and German spaces are not even stephen in Gegen die Wand. Turkish space is shown in the last twenty five minutes of the movie and we see rapid changes in Sibel�s and Cahit�s lives. It is like an accelerated version of the movie. But in Auf der Anderen Seite, there is an equilibrium and interaction between the spaces. Also dead bodies change space as well as living ones. (After Lotte�s and Yeter�s death, their tombs are sent to their homeland). They both intensively search for a new life for themselves in other land but they fail and turn to their homeland as dead. This is because they were very embedded to these spaces (perhaps it was their best chance to change their lives) so that only their death caused a return to homeland.

This kind of representation shows us how personal aims and dreams as well as tragedies could easily surmount national boundaries. In that sense, Auf der Anderen Seite could be considered as a progressive step towards a more realistic and hybrid representation of Turkish- German space and Turkish German identity...

January 2009


Fachinger, P. (2007). A New Kind of Creative Energy: Yadé Kara’s Selam Berlin and Fatih Akin’s Kurz und schmerzlos and Gegen die Wand. German Life and Letters, 60(2), 242-60.

Naficy, H. (2001). An Accented Cinema: Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking. Princeton and
Oxford: Princeton University Press.

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