Challenging European borders : Fatih Akın's filmic visions of Europe
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In my dissertation, I discuss three of Akın’s feature films: Im Juli (In July, 2000), Gegen die Wand (Head-On, 2004), and Auf der anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven, 2007) in order to investigate Akın’s filmic visions of Europe. Through close textual readings, I analyze three aspects of his films in particular: the spatial conceptions of Europe (city- and landscapes), the sounds of Europe (music and languages) as well as the display of ethnic minorities and the changing urban demography in Germany and Europe. I argue that Akın employs an “aesthetic of heterogeneity” to portray his filmic Europe as a diverse space, in which multiethnic and multilingual music, people, and sceneries are juxtaposed with regions that often have been perceived historically and politically as distinct and complicated. My first chapter discusses Akın’s conceptions and depictions of European Space in In July. By analyzing city- and landscapes, soundscapes, and dynamic spaces in In July, I argue that Akın provides a dynamic, fluctuating, and interconnected European space, including Eastern Europe and Turkey. In my second chapter, I scrutinize language use and dialogue in Head-On to map out the changing demographics in European urban spaces. Ultimately, I argue that Akın moves beyond Hamid Naficy’s theory of “accented cinema” by including accented languages and dialects for all protagonists, including Western Europeans. Through this linguistic polyphony, multilingualism and a diversity of accents are depicted as integral elements of today’s Europe. In my final chapter, I discuss the sound of Europe as depicted in The Edge of Heaven. Looking particularly at music (and music lyrics) in the film, I argue that Akın’s use of dubbed and remixed music (especially by the artist Shantel) underscores Akın’s filmic challenges to (national) European borders. By foregrounding the mixed styles of music, where an “original” becomes hard to decipher, the director shows, on an aural level, that blurring boundaries and multidirectional movement are the predominant components of today’s Europe.