Microsoft word - neu_juliet under the scarf - revisions by chris payne.doc
Reinold Ophüls-Kashima: “Juliet Under the Scarf? – The Figure of the Young Female Immigrant in Selected Recent German and European Films”.
Veröffentlicht in: Jōchi Daigaku Yōroppa Kenkyūsho Kenkyūsōsho
(Europe Institut – Sophia University), Nr. 2 (2008), S. 103-120.
If we are to assume there is such a thing as a “European film”, we might then presume that similarities in the treatment of immigration into this “Europe” by these films might exist on both narrative and iconographic levels. In film, as in literature, the world is
usually explained through the eyes of a certain figure, often referred to as a character. The figure of the immigrant, particularly in the case of emigration from the so-called Islamic countries into Western Europe, often represents the difficult situation of being
caught “in-between” two cultures. Thus, characters – and especially female immigrant characters – usually experience an internal conflict between their desire for self-determination and for traditional family values.
In this lecture I will seek to answer the question – how is this figure presented in German and other European films? In which kind of narratives does the figure of the often beautiful, pretty or cute young female immigrant appear? How is she described,
and how are her relationships with members of her family and the “outside” world? 2.
For the purpose of analysis during this lecture, I will use the melodrama Yasemin
by the German film director Hark Bohm, released in 1988, as a kind of model or prototype for
films that feature a young female immigrant as the heroine, since this film can indeed be described as a very typical and rather early exemplar of the treatment of the so-called immigration issue in Germany.
A short summary of the plot: At the beginning of the film, cocky young “macho” 20-year-old Jan, played by Uwe Bohm, joins a judo class and bets his male classmates that he can get any one of the female students to sleep with him in two days. His target
soon becomes 17-year-old Yasemin, a beautiful Hamburg-born second-generation Turkish girl, played by Ayse Romey, whose brother is also a member of the same club. At first, Yasemin dismisses Jan’s attentions and his persistence frightens her, as she
fears her family and her very conservative uncle, who is opposed to her going to high school and participating in the local karate club. A German friend called Susanne does not realize the difficult situation that Yasemin is in when Jan tries to make contact.
Yasemin is also shown in the context of her family and daily life. When out shopping for her family, Yasemin wears a headscarf, symbolizing the traditional values of a Turkish family.
At the beginning of the film, Yasemin and her loving, caring father have a very close relationship. He is proud of his intelligent and beautiful daughter and wants her to pursue higher education to become a doctor. The turning point of the story is the
wedding of Yasemin’s elder sister. When the elder sister fails to bleed during her first night with her husband – thus throwing “doubt” on her sexual purity – the father, fearing for the honor of his daughters, becomes a tyrant who refuses to allow Yasemin
and her younger sister to go out anymore. Tensions increasingly mount at home, and Yasemin starts seeing her amorous admirer in a better light and eventually falls in love with him. She starts to see him in secret, building to a highly melodramatic scene in
which her father and her uncle try to abduct her to Turkey. When she threatens to kill herself, the uncle seems to want her dead, as opposed to her disgusted father, who still loves her. Jan arrives on the scene on his bike and rescues her, and then we see Yasemin
on the bike behind Jan on the verge of tears since she has lost her family. The narrative structure is clearly typical of a Romeo and Juliet
melodrama, comparable, for example, with that of the film Titanic
, because the male protagonist Jan does not
have the same problems with his family as Yasemin does. He lives with his father, who has no authority over him at all. The core characters are essentially those belonging to Yasemin’s family; the only other figure besides Jan who is not Turkish is Susanne,
Yasemin’s school friend, and her role is mainly just to show the difference in cultural context between a German and a Turkish girl. In the center of this familial grouping we find a young girl caught between her lover and her father, the latter of whom is loving
and caring but also a guardian of tradition and the family’s honor. Furthermore, we find other male members of the family who try to control Yasemin for the purpose of family honor: her brother and her uncle, the latter of whom is by far the most negative figure in
the story, as he has no “heart”, in counterpoint to her father. The female figures, mother and sisters, remain somewhat dull; indeed only one of Yasemin’s aunts seems to possess the same spirit and courage as her.
If we look now at the structure of the character traits and differentiate them only by the virtues of “honor”, “courage” and “heart”, we see that the heroine Yasemin, the most positive figure in the film, has all three traits; Jan has courage and heart, but no honor;
the father has honor and heart, but no courage; Susanne has heart, but neither honor nor courage; and the uncle has honor, but neither courage nor heart. To summarize, the young female immigrant is shown as somebody who finds herself in
conflict with the traditional honor-based values of the Turkish immigrant family because she falls in love with a young German man. This view of the Turkish family by Germans is very popular nowadays, as highlighted by the sensationalistic reports in the
German tabloids about so-called honor-killings of young women who have broken ties with their families. Two points need to be added: The values of Yasemin’s family are Turkish, not Islamic;
in 1988, when this film was released, Islamic religion was not a focal point. Also, the German majority society is shown as liberal, permissive and tolerant, yet one that possesses a high degree of ignorance and lack of understanding in relation to Turkish
We will now turn our attention to two more recent German films that engage with our theme. Director Stephen Holtz’s 2005 “romantic comedy” Meine verrückte türkische
(English title: My Crazy Turkish Wedding
) can also be described as a Romeo and Juliet
-style story, but it is arguably a more balanced work as there is greater attention paid to “mainstream” German society. The film itself, made for the TV station
, is not very convincing or even really funny but it serves the purpose of our analysis perfectly. The central concept and title are, of course, borrowed from the 2002 American “romantic comedy” and much better film My Big Fat Greek Wedding
The film is set in the heart of the Turkish community in Berlin, the SO 36 of the Kreuzberg Ward. Götz, played by Florian David Fitz, is friendly, soft, likeable and definitely not “macho”, and runs a record shop with a friend who possesses the very
German name “Horst”. It is interesting to note that this shop – the only one left in the area owned by German proprietors – is clearly a record shop and not a CD shop. This, of course, is a parody of High Fidelity
, the famous film by director Stephen Frears. The
attitudes of Götz and Horst towards the Turkish people around them are markedly different: Horst doesn’t like the Turks but Götz always behaves in a friendly and tolerant manner towards them. Horst also serves as narrator of the story – an
unnecessary construction altogether – although it does allow for the possibility of comments about the protagonist Götz that the film itself does not provide. When Götz runs into trouble with his Turkish neighbors, he gets beaten up by accident,
and it is at this moment that Aylin – sans
scarf – appears. Interestingly, Aylin is played by Mandala Tayde, an actress of German and Indian extraction and someone with no Turkish ancestry at all. Aylin rushes to rescue Götz and they fall in love at first sight.
The basic structure of the film bears similarities with numerous myths and fairytales in which the prince has to prove his love and to overcome obstacles to marry the princess. In this comedy this means he has to assimilate himself into Aylin’s Turkish family.
Aylin’s father Süleyman likes Götz as a person but he wants a Turkish man for his daughter and so Götz has to become a Turk. How is it possible for a German man to become a Turk? Answer: He has to convert to Islam. There are a lot of obstacles
through which he must prove his love, for example enduring the time of fasting (Ramadan), and undergoing a circumcision. But the most difficult task is to become a real “macho” Turkish man, and so, just before the film’s happy ending, Götz knocks
down his rival Tarkan, a good-looking, very masculine and successful doctor. Inextricably linked with the story of Götz overcoming these obstacles and becoming more masculine and successful is the story involving Aylin’s family. In this film they
are represented less as characters than as representatives of certain positions. Süleyman is the loving, good-hearted patriarch; one brother, a policeman, represents – as does Tarkan – the “archetypal” chauvinistic, emotional and tough Turkish man; another
brother called Yussuf, who wears a traditional beard, and his much more powerful wife Fatma, who wears a headscarf, both personify Islamic fundamentalism; and Aylin’s mother Melek, who also wears a headscarf, merely serves as a standard mother figure
and does not contribute much of note to the plot. An important plot point in the story is the arrival of an uncle visiting the family from Turkey, since he convinces the financially struggling Götz to start a joint venture by selling Turkish jeans in his record
shop. This uncle – who represents the stereotype of an oriental businessman to a certain extent – is also good-hearted and friendly, but nevertheless slightly dubious, shrewd and even a little bit sly, and he tries to cheat Götz. Aylin represents both a modern Turkish
girl – who does not wear a headscarf and who attends university, goes to discos and sleeps with her lovers – but also a traditional Turkish girl who cares for her family and seeks a proper marriage.
Helena, Götz’s mother, is a successful reporter, and she has a more important role in the story than the father of Jan in the film Yasemin
, but both are single-parents, in contrast to the extended Turkish families of both Aylin and Yasemin. When Helena, fearing the
loss of her son to the Turkish family, meets with Aylin’s family, a fierce discussion about the concept of honor in Turkish society soon develops into a quarrel, and because Götz and Aylin each align themselves with their own family this argument leads to a
split between the lovers. Aylin, pregnant, is pressed to marry Tarkan, but, just like countless Hollywood romantic comedies, the Götz character appears during the climactic wedding scene. Aylin, unable to say “yes” to Tarkan, marries Götz in his car
with the help of her father Süleyman, while outside the car the men folk engage in a brawl. The structure of the comedy is deeply rooted in fairytale tropes of prince and princess,
but as a whole many of the ideas – even the underlying generic conventions of the romantic comedy itself – are borrowed directly from Hollywood. The Turkish immigrants are traditional and the male Turks are rather chauvinistic, as opposed to soft
Götz and his powerful and business-like mother. The character traits in this comedy can be loosely described by the following binary oppositions: successful versus unsuccessful; chauvinistic versus soft and peaceful; and kind-hearted versus
mean-spirited. Götz is unsuccessful, soft and kind-hearted, but also good-looking, and he has to become tougher and more masculine and successful by the end; beautiful Aylin is soft and kind-hearted; Helena is successful, kind-hearted but not soft; the father
Süleyman is kind-hearted and successful; Horst is masculine, unsuccessful and essentially kind-hearted, despite his best efforts to hide the latter; and Yussuf and Fatma are basically mean-spirited, unsuccessful and tough.
Both this film and Yasemin
present similar views of the Turkish extended immigrant family: In both we encounter a girl who loves her family but wants to decide for herself about her life and the object of her love; a patriarch who loves his family and his
daughters but also wants to guard the honor of the family; brothers who want to guard and control their sisters; and a weak mother character. Through the comedy of this film, all behavior and reactions by characters are softened, but not essentially altered – in
contrast to those in Yasemin
, which lead to tragedy. However, what is markedly different is the reaction of the German characters – in Meine verrückte türkische Hochzeit
they are no longer indifferent and ignorant but instead they hold a strong
opinion either “for” or “against” Turkish culture, as well as about Islam. In Yasemin
, a film from 1988, the depicted culture in question is Turkish; now, in 2005, Islam forms a central part of the represented Turkish culture.
Now we will turn to the films of Fatih Akin, a descendant of Turkish immigrants to Germany who sees himself as a German with Turkish roots. The lives of Turkish
immigrants in Germany form the basis of much of Akin’s body of work, but with the film Solino
, released theatrically in 2002, he instead turned his attention to Italian immigration into Germany, in particular the industrial region of the Ruhr District. The
main female immigrant figure in Solino
is a mother who follows her husband to Germany, where she accomplishes her dream of opening an Italian restaurant. Today we have Italian restaurants on every corner in Germany but back in the Sixties they were
fairly rare. Betrayed by her husband, she eventually returns to her hometown in Italy. In two other films by Fatih Akin – the melodrama Kurz und Schmerzlos
(English title: Short Sharp Shock
) released theatrically in 1998, and the road movie Im Juli
title: In July
) released in 2000 – the young female immigrant characters don’t play the lead roles, but appear nonetheless; one as the sister of the protagonist Mehmet in Kurz und Schmerzlos
, and the Melek character in Im Juli
, who is the reason why the German
protagonist Gabriel (played by Moritz Bleibtreu) desperately wants to be under the Golden Bridge in Istanbul on Friday. But at the end of the film it is Juli, not Melek, whom he is in love with and whom he meets under the bridge. In both films the actions
of the young female Turkish characters are largely the same as those of other young women in Germany: They have their own love affairs and friends, unrestricted by their families. Interestingly, the same actress, Idil Üner, played both roles.
Gegen die Wand
(English title: Head-On
) is a film with a similar structure to Yasemin
but with markedly different characters and a rather more complicated plot. Released in 2004, the film received the Golden Berlin Bear and the FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlin
Film Festival in the same year, in addition to numerous other awards worldwide. Incidentally, Fatih Akin studied cinematography in Hamburg under the tutelage of Yasemin
director Hark Bohm, so it is indeed possible to read Gegen die Wand
modern rendering of Yasemin
, although a totally different version nonetheless. The following is a plot summary of the film, sourced from the International Movie Database (IMDB):
Cahit is a German Turk [in] his late 30's. He has given up [on]…life after his beloved wife's death, and he's living a miserable life right in the core of cocaine and
excessive drinking. One night, he semi-intentionally crashes into a wall, and barely survives. At the hospital he's taken to, he meets a girl, Sibel, another German Turk who's tried to commit suicide. She's sick and tired of her family's ultra-traditional
issues, and asks Cahit to carry out a white marriage with her out of the blue, so that she can become a married woman and get rid of her family's revolting pressure. Cahit is turned off by the idea at first, but then he agrees to take part in this plan. As
Sibel tells him straightaway that she's interested in absolute freedom involving other men and he agrees, they live as roommates with separate private lives for a while. Then things take a different turn, and they're no longer two indifferent roommates.
But their love story won't be anywhere as simple as any other. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0347048/plotsummary)
In the film, her family has a similar structure as the families depicted in Yasemin
and Meine verrückte türkische Hochzeit
, but hers is by no means “ultra-traditional”. The family is composed of a patriarchal father figure who loves his daughter Sibel (played
by Sibel Kekilli) but who also wants to protect the honor of the family; a brother who supports his father and is a successful small businessman; and a slightly more realistic, but nonetheless largely ineffectual mother, who does not wear a headscarf, has dyed
hair and smokes cigarettes. The father seems to be rather weak and loves his daughter dearly, and Sibel’s brother is angry with her because he loves his father and wants to protect him. The mother, although a much more modern version of the traditional
mothers in Yasemin
and Meine verrückte türkische Hochzeit
, is prudent enough to compromise. The marriage between the hitherto desperate and suicidal protagonists Cahit and Sibel
seems destined to provide both with a happy ending, but one day Cahit knocks down and kills a man who was provoking him by calling Sibel a Greek whore, among other epithets. Interestingly, the actress Sibel Kekilli was exposed by the loathsome tabloid
as a former porn actress in real life; and, in a case of art mirroring life, the private life of the Sibel character in Gegen die Wand
is splashed all over the tabloids, and as a result of this public scandal she is expelled from her family. The father, fulfilling what
he thinks is his duty, weeps while he burns the pictures of his daughter, and the brother chases Sibel when he discovers her in the neighborhood, his intentions largely ambiguous – does he wish to chase her away or kill her?
But the film doesn’t come to an end here; rather, Sibel leaves Germany and flies from Hamburg to Istanbul, where her cousin, a successful hotel manager, puts her up and gives her work in the hotel. This cousin symbolizes the reasonable and modern values
of the Turkish middle-class, which have much more in common with those of its German counterpart than with those of Sibel’s Turkish family in Hamburg. In this film Istanbul symbolizes both modernity and traditional culture simultaneously. Sibel
continues her self-destructive behavior and even takes drugs, until some men beat her up her at night in the streets of Istanbul. In the following scenes we see Cahit – now released from prison – looking for Sibel. He
eventually meets her in Istanbul, where Sibel appears to have settled down somewhat, and is by now married with a son. Once again they sleep with each other and Sibel promises Cahit that she will leave her husband and son and run off with him, but at the
last moment she is wracked with indecision, and we see Cahit leaving Istanbul by bus in the last scene of the film, now alone. Interspersed throughout the main narrative are scenes of Turkish musicians playing traditional music at the Bosporus in Istanbul,
which gives the film – somewhat ironically – the structure of a traditional Turkish tragic love story. The Turkish immigrants in Gegen die Wand
show some similarities with those in
, but they are rather more complicated and broken individuals. The main opposition seems not to be “traditional” versus “modern” as is the case in Yasemin
, but rather the difference between the reasonable behavior of Sibel’s mother, the cousin and
her brother, and the unreasonable and chaotic actions of Cahit and Sibel. Because Cahit and Sibel are fairly complicated and chaotic, their love is also complicated and chaotic. We find different kinds of male chauvinism in this film; the desperate suicidal kind
embodied by Cahit, who brawls when drunk; the brutality of the men in Istanbul; the reasonable but angry behavior of Sibel’s brother and the helplessness of the loving father who tries to fulfill his duties in the role of patriarch. The important women in the
story – beside Sibel, her mother and her cousin – are both modern and reasonable. Now, what kind of Juliet do we find in this film? Sibel’s desire for freedom is a desire for a promiscuous and largely self-destructive life, and it is probably safe to say that
middle-class families throughout the world would sympathize with her family over her behavioral problems. Sibel’s family seems to be willing to help until she causes a public scandal. With Gegen die Wand
we now have a film by a Turkish German director that is
a much more layered and complex version of the standard love story, one that features difficult, realistic characters, unexpected plot twists, and also a degree of irony through its handling of cultural differences between Germany and Turkey.
I will now turn to a comparison of Yasemin
with some selected films from other European countries. Arguably the most well known recent French film that tackles the
subject of young women from an immigrant family is the film Samia
, released in 2002 and directed by Philippe Faucon. This film, based on an autobiographical novel by Soraya Nini, chronicles a few weeks in the life of Samia, a teenager and the sixth of
eight children in a family of Algerian immigrants in Marseilles. The Internet site Filmblather
describes the plot of the film thus:
As the film opens, Samia (Lynda Benahouda) is meeting with some sort of school career planner who tells her, in so many words, that the best she can hope for (if she scores well on an aptitude test) is to be a social worker. Her family [emigrated]
from Algeria looking for a better life, but having no intention of assimilating into the French culture. Samia, along with her three sisters, wants to be a regular French
teenager, "hanging out" after school, working, and doing regular teenager things. She finds those things not to be so simple in her family.
Muslim tradition holds that the man is the head of the household; his word is law.
The father is growing old, and leadership has passed to his oldest son Yacine (Mohamed Chaouch), who takes advantage of the situation and becomes a tyrant. He tries to beat his sisters if they come home late, are seen with a French guy, or
disrespect him, their father or their mother in any way. He respects full adherence to tradition, and isn't willing to make any concessions to the culture they've moved into. "Out there is France," he says. "In here, it's Algeria."
Their mother (Kheira Oualhaci) is complacent. While she tries to protect the girls from outright violence, she also berates them for "upsetting their brother" and disrespecting their heritage. She tells them to, at the very least, wait until they leave
While in Yasemin
the uncle is the most negative figure, in Samia
it is the unemployed
elder brother. Moreover, at a simple level, Yasemin is Turkish and Samia is Algerian. But both films are similar in that they maintain a fierce support for the suppressed young female immigrant and stand against traditional male power structures.
The conflict between cultural tradition and the freedom of the subject to decide for oneself is located more often than not in the so-called Islamic society. A very controversial discussed exception is the French film Fatou la malien
Malians) by the film director Daniel Vigne, released in 2001. Fatou is a pretty, lively Parisian girl who is turning 18 and finishing high school. She works part-time at a hair salon and dreams of becoming a fashion designer. Fatou was born in Paris and has
never been to Africa from where her parents came. All of as sudden a husband (a cousin) is found and preparations are made for the wedding. When Fatou finds out that her marriage is arranged, she objects. However, the wheels of African tradition are in
motion and cannot be stopped simply because Fatou is not ready yet. This is the set up for a heart-wrenching clash of cultures. Fatou is deprived of her freedom, but in the end her friend, a white French girl, helps her to escape. In opposite to Yasemin it is the
mother who functions as the keeper of tradition which is not Islamic or somehow religious but African. And whereas for Yasemin the conflict with her family breaks her
heart, for Fatou everything seems fine in the (happy) end. The figures of immigrants are not at all rare in French cinema. We even find a French Yasmine in the film L’autre monde
(English title: The Other World
) directed by Merzak
Allouache and released in France in 2001. In this film the heroine leaves Paris for Algeria, traveling through its cities and deserts to follow a trail she hopes will lead to her missing lover.
British cinema has also a tradition of discussing the immigration subject: A recent film often mentioned is East as East
, released in 1999 and directed by Damien O'Donnell. In this comedy the attempts of a Pakistani father to educate his children in a traditional
way lead to a lot of resistance and comical situations. There is not only a Turkish-German and a French-Algerian “Yasemin”, but also a British-Pakistani production with the title Yasmin
by Kenneth Glenaan, released in 2004. Here is a plot
In England, the [Pakistani] Yasmin lives two lives in two different worlds: in her
community, she wears Muslim clothes, cooks for her father and brother and has the traditional behavior of a Muslim woman. Further, she has a[n unconsummated] marriage with the illegal immigrant Faysal to facilitate the British stamp in his
passport, and then divorce him. In her job, she changes her clothes and [dresses] like a Westerner, is considered a standard employee and has a good Caucasian friend who likes her. After… [September 11]…the prejudice in her job and the treatment
of common people makes her take [a] side and change her life. (Claudio Carvalho
The British film director Stephen Frears, now famous for Hollywood films like Accidental Hero
(1992), High Fidelity
(2000) and The Queen
(2006), was one of the first directors to put the figure of the Pakistani immigrant on screen, in his 1985 film My
. In this film a young Pakistani man who opens his own laundry has a homosexual relationship with a very good looking blond member of the racist National Front. Another film with a young male Pakistani protagonist is the 1987 film
Sammy and Rosie Get Laid
. After a string of financially successful films, Frears turned his hand to creating a film for the BBC about refugees in London, in which he made it quite clear that he
sympathizes with the refugees’ plight. In his 2002 film Dirty Pretty Things
, famous French actress Audrey Tautou plays Turkish asylum seeker Senay, who lets Okwe, a former doctor and illegal refugee from Nigeria, stay in her room. Okwe is a very
likeable and kind-hearted protagonist who drives a minicab by day, works at night at the front desk in a hotel and also prescribes drugs to men with venereal diseases. Senay
slaves away in a sweatshop, and, as she works there illegally, she is trapped by her employer and is forced to sleep with him. These two immigrants help each other and form a tentative friendship, but when the situation becomes even more difficult for both of them, Senay agrees to sell a kidney to get a passport and escape to New York, where
her sister lives. Meanwhile, Okwe is pressured to perform that very operation, and he agrees in exchange for a false passport. In the end it won’t be Senay who loses her kidney but the evil and greedy porter of the hotel who wanted to sell the kidney
originally. Okwe and Senay must farewell one another at the airport, and in the very last scene we see Okwe on the phone telling his seven year old daughter that he is now coming home.
In this film we see immigrants as refugees, living under dreadful conditions, being exploited – even physically – and struggling to survive. The Turkish heroine Senay neither has family in London nor connections to her religion or civilization, and we
never see her wearing a headscarf. Her culture therefore is largely irrelevant to the plot. Senay and Okwe are lonely, but – at least by Western standards – rather “normal” figures who are both living in a very abnormal situation.
The heroine of another successful British film, 2002’s Bend It Like Beckham
by young female British film director Gurinder Chandra, is clearly redolent of the Yasemin character from the earlier German film. Here is a lengthy plot summary from
The film is a coming-of-age tale about 18-year-old Jesminder "Jess" Bhamra
(played by 27-year-old Parminder Nagra), a Sikh girl living in the western suburbs of London, not far from Heathrow Airport. Her first-generation Punjabi immigrant parents push her hard to study to get into university and become a solicitor, and
wish to arrange a marriage for her in due course. Jess instead dreams of football, inspired by one of England's most famous players, David Beckham. She displays
unusual talent for the game in park matches with the local boys, running them ragged with her evasive skills.
While playing in the park Jess is spotted by Juliette "Jules" Paxton (Keira
Knightley), the star player at the Hounslow Harriers, a local amateur women's football club. She happily accepts Jules's invitation to join the club, even though she knows her parents would disapprove. Jess becomes a key member of the side and
Jules's best friend. She also develops a special bond with the team's coach, Joe (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), a young man whose dreams of football stardom were shattered when he injured his knee. Meanwhile, there are rumors that a scout from
an American college is looking for players for the school's women's team. The resulting situation sets up a number of culture clashes ranging from the comical to the serious, as Jess, her friends (both from the Indian community and the football
club), and family, try to negotiate their way between the expectations of two cultures and their own dreams and desires. (End of the quotation) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bend_it_like_Beckham#Plot)
The central narrative here is a combination of themes – the classic Hollywood theme of success as a result of pursuing one’s dreams and overcoming obstacles and difficulties
(especially those inside one’s own family), combined with the thematic conflict between an expected traditional female role and personal ambition. In this film it is the mother – rather than the father – who tries to control the protagonist Jess and push her
in the direction of a more traditional life. The father experienced discrimination by British society himself when he wanted to play cricket in his youth, but now he backs up his daughter finally.
Furthermore, the basic narrative is complemented with subplots: For example the wedding of Jess’ more traditional sister; the love story between Jess and the soccer player Joe; Jess’ friendship with her fellow player Jules; and the relationship between
Jules and her mother, who fears that her daughter is in a lesbian relationship with Jess. The last is a necessary plotline to produce a structural balance between the English and the Indian family – that is to say, both families have similar difficulties in accepting the
fact that their daughters are playing soccer, which conveys the message that English and Indian middle-class people are not actually so very different. Surprisingly, the love
story is not presented as important, because in the end (quotation): “The film concludes with family and friends assembled at the airport to bid Jess and Jules farewell.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bend_it_like_Beckham#Plot)
The last film that I will briefly discus in this lecture is L'Assedio
(English title: Besieged
) directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and released in 1999. As in Yasemin
film focuses on a love story, but it has a totally different structure – that of a love triangle between a woman and two men. In this case the woman – the beautifully named Shandurai, played by Thandie Newton – is a refugee and emigrant from Africa to Italy.
The film opens in her African homeland, where her husband teaches at a school; there he makes jokes about the president and gets instantly imprisoned. Then the location shifts to a bohemian villa in Rome, where Shandurai has become the housemaid of
Jason Kinsky (played by David Thewlis), an awkward British man who plays the piano with a dilettante's hand. The film focuses on the slowly blossoming love affair between Jason and Shandurai. She works with him while studying – ultimately successfully – for
a qualification as nurse. It is only when Kinsky admits to loving his African maid that he learns that Shandurai has a husband. At the end we see the husband, released from prison, coming to Italy.
Shandurai comes to Italy as a political refugee, and, like Senay in the film Dirty Pretty Things
, she doesn’t seem to have any family except for her husband. As opposed to its depiction of Islamic civilization, European cinema does not appear to foreground the
religious and/or cultural background of people from the so-called “Black Africa” south of the Sahara. In the French film Romuald and Juliette
– which, at least superficially, evokes the Romeo and Juliet
structure of Yasemin
– a black mother working as a
cleaning lady holds a totally different social status than that of her company president lover, yet she is not marked as “culturally different”. The opposition of “black” and “white” in European films tends to symbolize – if anything – increased social
differences, rather than reduced cultural differences, with some exceptions like the French film Fatou
; whereas a “clash of civilizations” is represented in the public
discourse primarily by persons from the so-called “Islamic civilization”. As a symbol, “Islam” tends to represent the religious, traditional and intolerant pasts of European societies. The headscarf has long been a symbol of rural backwardness, well before it
became a symbol of Islamic religion. What does all this tell us about “European film”? On the structural level of plots, stories and myths we are able to find as many differences between European cultures or even
between single directors as between the broad categories of “European film” and “Hollywood film”. “European” is a certain symbolic classification of the immigrants: The social problem,
combined with the question of racial discrimination, is often symbolized by a tableaux of white and black, whereas a “Juliet” from an emigrated family, who has to represent the clash of civilization or culture, tends, with exceptions, to be depicted in a European
narrative as somebody of a so-called Islamic civilization, an issue that can be traced back to the discourse on similar European experiences with the emigration from countries like Algeria, Turkey and Pakistan into Western Europe. There may be no such
thing as a “European film” as such, but rather labels like German, British, French or Italian films, which all differ from the Hollywood model on a basic narrative level, but which possess and evoke common or similar European experiences and discourses that
have worked their way into each national cinema and culture. At this point it would be desirable to commence more detailed research into the structures of European film. Please take this lecture only as the first step towards this research. Thank you very
Literature: Akin, Fatih: Gegen die Wand : das Buch zum Film : Drehbuch, Materialien, Interviews.
Köln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2004. (KiWi 859) Bechmann, Helga: Das filmische Universum des Stephen Frears: Genrevielfalt und
. Alfeld/Leine: Coppi-Verlag, 1997. Çelik, Semra: Grenzen und Grenzgänger – Diskursive Positionierungen im Kontext
. Unrast, 2006 [Edition DISS, Bd. 12]. Everett, Wendy Ellen, and Peter Wagstaff: Cultures of exile: images of displacement
New York: Berghahn Books, 2004 Hacker, Jonathan and David Price: Take ten: Contemporary British film directors
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1992. Jäger, Margarete: “Diskursive Effekte der Kopftuchdebatte im deutschen
Einwanderungsdiskurs”. In: dies., und Jürgen Linkg (Hg.): Macht, Religion, Politik – Zu Renaissancen religiöser Praktiken und Mentalitäten
. Münster: Unrast, 2006 [Edition DISS, Bd. 11], S. 187–208.
Jacobsen, Wolfgang, Anton Kaes und Hans Helmut Prinzler (Hg.): Geschichte des deutschen Films. Stuttgart, Weimar: J.B. Metzler, 2004.
Littger, Stephan (Ed.): The director's cut: picturing Hollywood in the 21st century: conversations with 21 contemporary filmmakers
. New York: Continuum
Kolker, Robert Phillip: Bernardo Bertolucci
. New York : Oxford University Press, 1985.
ACTOS CONMEMORATIVOS DE LA REVOLUCIÓN DE MAYO 24 y 25 de mayo de 2012 Como es habitual, el día 24 de mayo a partir de las 21.30 hs. se l evó a cabo la tradicional cena previa a la Fecha Patria en los Salones Leval e, Broquen y Viejobueno. Asistieron, aproximadamente, unas cuatrocientas personas, incluyendo socios de la Institución, familiares, invitados especiales y miembros de la H
Ind J Clin Biochem (Oct-Dec 2010) 25(4):367–370Effect of Metformin on Hormonal and Biochemical Profilein PCOS Before and After TherapyBratati Singh • Suchismita Panda • Rachita Nanda •Sanghamitra Pati • Manaswini Mangaraj •Pratima Kumari Sahu • Prakash Chandra MohapatraReceived: 18 September 2009 / Accepted: 24 September 2010 / Published online: 19 November 2010Ó Association of C