Fatih Akin: Gegen die Wand / Head On (D 2003)


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Fatih Akin: Gegen die Wand / Head On (D 2003)


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Fatih Akin: Gegen die Wand / Head On (D 2003)
Ekkehard Knörer



Director Info

[Image] Fatih Akin burst onto the scene with his highly acclaimed first film "Kurz und schmerzlos" (Short Sharp Shocked, 1998), then surprised everybody with what the New York Times' A.O. Scott described like this: "A whimsical romantic comedy from Germany — yes, you read that right — 'In July'is also a love letter to a benign and beguiling vision of Europe." With "Solino" (2002) Akin tried to break free from the subject of Turks in Germany, not entirely successfully, though. "Gegen die Wand" (2004; IMDB) then became his biggest hit after winning the Golden Bear at this year's Berlin Film Festival, the first German film to do so since 1986.


Romuald Karmakar, talking about film versions of theater plays on the Berlin festival press conference said he was completely on André Bazin's side. Fatih Akin, asked how close the story of "Head On" was to his own life, gave this answer: It was a story he had to squeeze out like a pimple after years of festering. The difference between these answer sums up quite nicely the difference between these two German directors. Where Karmakar is a man of intellect and thorough deliberation, Akin completely, almost blindly trusts in his story, his actors and the powers conjured up by their energy and interaction. It may come as a big and pleasant surprise, then, that both Karmakar's latest and "Head On"are excellent movies.

"Head On" begins in a tragi-comic manner, throwing Cahit and Sibel against each other in suicidal furor, literally so. She wants to get out of a world that denies her the freedom she seeks. It's the world of her Turkish family where it is the men's job and duty to keep an eye on the women's innocence. No matter how, murder is the final and very real option. Cahit, on the other hand, is a 40 year old loser, somehow earning his money, taking drugs, we hear about his history, but not much: He was married, we never learn what became of his wife Katharina. Sibel has two options, she tells Cahit: suicide or marrying him. Make no mistake here: She wants to marry him to be free. Free to sleep with whomever she wants, that is. They marry, Cahit falls in love with her. The film at this point turns into tragedy, and a very bitter one.

It is not the last twist or turn in this ever surprising story, but you are ready to take them for granted, all of them, twisting and turning. None of the ways the narrative goes is what Robert McKee will teach you and the only logic it follows is a logic of breakneck despair. And yet: it's all completely believable. "Head On" is by no means a perfect film (whereas Romuald Karmakar's "Die Nacht singt ihre Lieder" is almost too perfect). The leading actress was casted from the street - her only "acting" experience being porn movies -, but even her lack of professional skills fits her role just perfectly. Akin does not have very much of a deliberate concept, it all seems done by intuition, every single picture of it. But it is convincing. It is touching. It is powerful. A comedy, a tragedy, a tragi-comedy. A sad, a gentle ending.

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