Fatih Akin’s 2007 film is a masterpiece. On the surface, it is a complicated story about a Turkish prostitute working in Hamburg, whose murder prompts her killler’s son to locate and help her daughter, a Kurdish political activist in love with a Hamburg student. On a deeper level, it is about blindness, and the peace that comes from seeing others with compassion.
The movie circles back on itself, and carefully layers its story, giving every line and scene an immeasurable weight. When the Hamburg student, Yeter, flees to Istanbul to help her lover, Ayten, she overturns her mother’s house, convinced her mother has hidden her passport. Her mother finds it in plain sight and holds it up to her. “Look how blind you are,” she says. The film, naturally, will spend the rest of its time turning that accusataion back on the mother, and on its other characters as well.
Akin, a Turkish film-maker living in Hamburg, explained the movie this way: “What I’m always trying to say is, this Turkish-German gap, you know, or this connecting element of the two nations, or systems, or worlds — you can change that and put other things instead.”