Brudermord (Fratricide)

With actors Xevat Gectan, Erdal Celik, Bulent Buyukasik, Nurettin Celik, Yusuf Gectan, Taies Farzan, Oral Uyan, Xhiljona Ndoja; Available on DVD in Germany

Summary: Semo, a Kurdish immigrant and pimp living in Germany, offers to pay for his younger brother Azad to come and join him. Reluctantly, Azad accepts his brother’s offer and makes the long journey from his poverty-stricken homeland. He moves in to an asylum for refugees where, amidst hopeless squalor, he befriends Ibo, an eleven-year-old Kurdish orphan. A powerful and tender bond grows between the two boys, but the odds are against them. Ahmet and Zeki are young second-generation Turks. Frustrated, unemployed, alienated from their heritage and with no place in German society, their anger simmers at fever pitch. Meanwhile they devote themselves to petty crime and their savage pit bulls. When these four doomed exiles meet, their encounter unleashes a nightmarish cycle of violence they believed they had left behind.

Review by UC Berkeley undergraduate Melissa Carlson: 

In this film review, I will analyze the important themes and questions raised in the movie Fratricide (originally titled Brudermord). The movie was released in 2005 with Yilmaz Arslan as the director and is available in Turkish, Kurdish, and German with English subtitles. Fratricide is a drama with moments of extreme violence. The movie follows the story of two young Kurdish refugees who immigrated to Germany to find better lives and make money to send back to their families. However, the dream of a new life isn’t what the Kurdish boys experience as they work hard, and sometimes illegally, for meager pay. They run into trouble when one of the Kurdish boys’ older brother kills a Turkish gang member in self-defense to protect his younger brother. The family and fellow gang members of the deceased seek vengeance against the two Kurdish refugees, claiming that only killing the older Kurdish brother will end the violence and pay for the death of the Turk.

Fratricide raises questions of identity, community, immigration, and integration. It’s interesting to note that the title of the movie was changed from a German title (Brudermord) to an English title (Fratricide). Brudermord directly translates to “brother murder”, and fratricide means the act of killing one’s brother. This could be a case of translatability across the two languages. The idea of “brotherhood” relates to a scene in the movie where the two Turks and the two Kurds first meet and one of the Kurds asks a Turk to restrain his violently barking dog on a public bus, politely addressing him as “brother”, a typical form of address that Turks and Kurds would use in their country among their people. The Turk gets mad at the Kurd for addressing him as his “brother”, since he doesn’t want to identify with the migrant community in Germany. It’s significant that the title is referencing the brotherhood that exists among these ethnic communities and how it can often, or not as exhibited by the Turk’s reaction to the Kurd’s traditional form of address, carry over and even intensify once members of a community migrate to another country and congregate together as a way to form a support group, because they often don’t feel accepted by the native population. However, as immigrants join a community consisting of members of their same ethnicity within another country, this raises issues of integration and assimilation into their new home country. This is a problem that Germany currently faces, especially as the government addresses problems of terrorist cells within the country, such as the one that lead the 9/11 attacks on the US.

The movie was released in 2005, which is evidence to how it expresses modern issues that Germany faces with its immigrants, especially those from Arab countries. In order to combat this, Germany has tried to improve integration of immigrants into society in hopes that integration will foster a sense of belonging and freedom from oppression which will lead to less violence and possible terrorist cells existing in the country, an idea that is expressed in several texts from the Germany in Transit book in Chapter 5. Some recent news article have mentioned German schools are allowing students to speak only in German, promoting language acquisition in hopes of integrating migrant schoolchildren more into society. This is shown in a scene in Fratricide when the younger Kurdish boy goes to a German-speaking school, and he doesn’t understand or speak German so he just sits there while the other schoolchildren practice listen and repeat language exercises, learning the German words for various animals. Although, in our class, we’ve discussed how learning the home country’s native language doesn’t necessarily translate to societal integration and identity acquisition for immigrants. Something more than learning the German language must be done for immigrants to feel like they belong in society and are accepted by the German people. By relating topics we’ve discussed in our discussions to relatively recent films like Fratricide, it is evident that Germany still struggles with problems related to immigration and identity due to repercussions of its long history of xenophobia and discrimination of foreigners. It’s an important issue that demands attention and discussion, especially since the world we live in is becoming increasingly more connected and collaborative on a global level and it is critical that with increased immigration societies must be able to welcome and accept foreigners into their countries and treat them like they belong.

Links: IMDB, Film Portal
Genre(s): Drama, Melodrama;
Theme(s): Ethnicity; Migration and Mobility;

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