“Auf der anderen Seite” Review by Traci Fitzharris

Auf der anderen Seite revolves around death; in fact, the movie is separated into chapters titled “Yeter’s Death,” “Lotte’s Death,” and “The Edge of Heaven.” The final chapter, lasting only the last half hour of the movie, is the only segment that does not involve the death or near-death experience of a main character. Nejat, the son of Ali, undergoes his own form of death when he switches careers. He leaves his post as a Turkish teacher of German in a German university to become a German bookstore owner in Turkey, the irony of which did not go unnoticed. Nejat is often filmed alone in first two chapters of the movie, and is usually framed between two structures, which adds to the feeling of solitude . For example, he is framed by the doorframe in his office in Hamburg, by the buildings in the alley in Turkey, between bookshelves in his bookstore, and by the breakwater at the close of the film. Nejat is also the center of multiple expansive driving sequences, first through Germany and then through Turkey. These austere scenes are often juxtaposed with Nejat’s father, who seemed much more jovial in his scenes with Yeter, his live-in prostitute girlfriend.

An interesting technique used by director Fatih Akin is the telling of two different stories that overlap in time and place. The chapter of Yeter ends with her murder, and Nejat takes it upon himself to search for her daughter Ayet in Turkey. The following chapter concerning Ayet and Lotte reveals that Ayet has been seeking asylum in Germany long before her mother’s death. Thus, Nejat travels to Turkey only to change his own path. Akin implements shots more than once from different perspectives; the first time seeing the scene exposes the surface value, and the second time reveals deeper meaning. This is also true of the bookend beginning and ending shots of Nejat traveling through Turkey. In the beginning of the movie, we are simply introduced to Nejat’s character. At the close of the film, we become aware that Nejat is in search of his father, who was banished from Germany for killing Yeter, hoping to reunite after receiving encouragement from Lotte’s mother. Movies of this nature thrill me; I love trying to figure out the intricate connections between characters, and it is especially frustrating when characters interact who are aspiring toward a similar goal, yet are completely unaware of one another’s aspirations. For example, both Lotte and Nejat are in search of Ayet and Lotte eventually comes to stay in Nejat’s home, yet neither can conspire together because they have been forbidden from mentioning Ayet’s name.

Another interesting filming technique was the juxtaposition of the female characters. For example, both Lotte and Ayet take the same ferry across a river in Turkey at different times in the movie. For Ayet, the passage is dark and rough, as she is trying to escape Turkey as a political dissident. On the other hand, the passage is sunny and bright as Lotte enters Turkey in search of her lover. Likewise, an almost identical shot was used to show Yeter’s casket entering Turkey and Lotte’s casket leaving Turkey for Germany. Furthermore, when Lotte’s mother comes to Turkey to mourn the loss of her daughter, she ends up taking the same streets and talking to the same people as Lotte had earlier in the movie. This shows that Lotte and her mother have always shared a similar path in life, despite disputes over Ayet. Moreover, this theory was confirmed by Lotte’s mother admission that she had previously visited Istanbul on her way to India, just as her daughter had spent time backpacking in India. Overall, the film left this viewer wanting, as certain characters were never able to be reconciled.

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