Edge of Heaven

4 The Edge of Heaven (Auf der anderen Seite) is story about the intertwining lives of six characters. The Turkish-German film, directed by Fatih Akin, explores fateful tragedies that ultimately lead to changes in the characters. In the first part of the movie Ali, an elderly Turkish immigrant in Germany, meets Yeter, a prostitute who is also a Turkish immigrant. Ali believes he has found a solution to his loneliness after Yeter agrees to move into his house. Sometime later, both have an argument in which Ali stikes Yeter and accidentally kills her. Thereafter the story follows the journey of their children. After Ali's imprisonment, his son Neyat decides to abandon his job as a professor at a German university and move to Turkey in search of Yeter's lost daughter, Ayten. Neyat wants to find Ayten so that he can pay for her education. Meanwhile, Ayten is involved with a Turkish communist group and illegally flees to Berlin in search of Yeter. She seeks refuge in the home of Susanne and her daughter Lotte, a German university student. Many of characters meet during the course of this movie, but will Neyat and Ayten's path ever cross? The Edge of Heaven is a tale depicting the merging of the East and the West in which each character’s fate influences another's, ultimately creating a domino effect. 

The film explores the many faces of globalization and serves as a reminder that what we take from our globalized experiences is truly dependent on an individual level. Today, globalization has become an integral part of each individual's life. Someone of a different culture or nation can easily affect our thinking and actions. In the film, Lotte decides to let Ayten live in her house, but Susanne feels that Turkey's people, after the country's initiation into the EU, will gain rights and that Ayten should return to Turkey. Ayten is caught by authorities, refused political asylum and sent back to Turkey. Thereafter, Lotte goes to Turkey to help Ayten out of jail, but she gets killed in the process.  Only after Lotte's death does Susanne, who was behind the zeal of anti-immigrant culture, realize her responsibility to continue her daughter's efforts to free Ayten. In retrospect, Susanne begins to view Ayten's situation on a more personal basis rather than a political one. In doing so, she find's another daughter in Ayten.

Living within the confines of a sheltered nation, people sometimes forget their responsibility to the world around them. The film provides us with characters with a generation gap in which the younger generation brings about social change in hopes that their elders will eventually realize and neglect their conservative views. Neyat leaves his secure job as a professor, because he feels that he has a responsibility to find Ayten. In one scene, the lawyer who is attempting to help find Ayten, questions Neyat why he wants to provide an education for a specific girl when there are so many other Turkish girls in need of help. The situation speaks to the fact that many times, we need something that has affected us individually, which can motivate us to move out of our comfort zone and work towards social change. Again, the capacity to make the most out of globalization is dependent on each of us and our personal experiences. 

In terms the technical and cinematic aspects, the film exceeds all expectations in creating a mise en scene that speaks to the contemporary global issues. The picture perfect, rear point of view shots create a sense of longing experienced by characters to change their past. Throughout the film, globalization is depicted in various objects such as the transportation of dead bodies in coffins at the airports from Turkey to Germany and vice versa. The German bookstore in Istanbul, which Nejat decides to buy, becomes an emblematic place of solace for many characters since it allows for German and Turkish cultures to mix. Lotte first encounters Nejat in the bookstore and stays with him during her stay in Turkey. After Lotte's death, Susanne then also starts to take care of the bookstore. The shot near the end of the film in which they hug each other in the bookstore symbolizes the final merging of these German and Turkish cultures. In a tale about hope that is molded by destiny, The Edge of Heaven is an honest and exceptional honest portrayal of the complexity of human relationships in this globalized era. 


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