You are here: Home > Movies and Actors > Gegen die Wand (Head-On) starring Birol Ünel and Sibel Kekilli

Gegen die Wand (Head-On) starring Birol Ünel and Sibel Kekilli

Gegen die Wand (Head-On) starring Birol Ünel and Sibel Kekilli

Gegen die Wand (Head-On) starring Birol Ünel, Sibel Kekilli, Güven K?raç, Catrin Striebeck and Meltem Cumbul. Written and directed by Fatih Ak?n, 2004. Image via

Gegen die Wand

The English Title is Head-On, and roughly translated it means Against The Wall, which I believe to be a much better title.

There are millions of Turks living in Germany and the problems depicted in the film are not exaggerated. While the film might seem  to be more of a concern to either Turkish people or Germans or the people caught between the two national identities, it all comes down to very universal themes of culture clash, unhealthy relationships between family members/generations, tradition vs. individuality, pain, love, drugs, depression and hope all at once. Let’s get back to it after the plot:

Cahit (Birol Ünel) is a Turkish guy in his 40s, who has been living in Germany ever since he can remember. He doesn’t really believe in anything. He is living a depressed, self-destructive life on alcohol and drugs and doesn’t really seem to mind if he ends up dead. When his actions cause him to end up in a psychiatric clinic, he meets another patient- a younger, attractive Turkish girl named Sibel (Sibel Kekilli) who asks him to marry her right on the spot, as soon as she finds out he is Turkish. She hates living with her family- especially her oppressive, religious, controlling and even occasionally violent father and brother. She is in the clinic because she has attempted suicide. It is not that she really wants to die, but she just doesn’t want to keep living her life under the ruling of her family. Cahit is amused by her suggestion and wants to laugh her off, but he soon realizes she is serious.  So he unwillingly agrees. The arrangement seems simple enough: she will cook, clean, and even pay rent- they will just be roomies. She couldn’t have cared less about how messed up he is, as she is dying to get away from home.

They get married and Cahit keeps his old habits up, while Sibel keeps sleeping around with any man she wants. But things don’t remain as simple as they planned them to be. They connect – and even fall in love. But before they have a chance to even try really being together, Cahit kills one of her “conquests” by mistake and goes to prison. Scared for her life and with nowhere else to go, she goes to live with her cousin (Meltem Cumbul) in Turkey. She can’t however manage to live a simple, regular life and ends up in serious trouble.  Can she survive her own self-destructive side and eventually get back together with Cahit?

Writer/director Fatih Akin  is Turkish-German- which means he is Turkish but grew up in Germany. Having experienced the culture clashes first hand, he has made a solid, albeit depressing film.

While not all Turkish people are like Sibel’s family and obviously not every rebellious person ends up like her, it is not unseen for young women to marry whoever, just to get away from home. Since she has not had the chance to act like she wanted her whole life, she goes overboard with everything- especially hooking up with as many men as she can. Cahit could have connected with her sooner, had he not been depressed for so long about his wife’s death.

This movie is depressing, I won’t lie. It is powerful and humane but the second half is too depressing for my taste. In fact the second half pretty much can compete with Requiem for a Dream in the depressing and dark department. So while I never expected a happy movie (well, both lead characters are suicidal on a level), I was hoping for a less tragic story. That being said, this movie is slightly more uplifting about human nature than Requiem for a Dream.

As for the story plausibility; obviously not all Turkish Germans are like that, although there are many families who are that way. But then again old-fashioned and blind traditionalism and so-called religiousness (it is not acceptable in any religion for married men to go and sleep with hookers. You will notice the hypocrisy of male attitude with Cahit’s in-laws) is not exclusive to Muslims or Turks. Hell, Stephen King created a horror/thriller classic called Carrie. Remember Carrie’s mother?

Yes, I like happier films. But when a film is good, you have to give its due.

The movie has great acting and I love the rock part of the soundtrack. But yes, the story is not for everyone. It is easy to feel sympathy for Sibel for the first half and hate her for the second. I found myself feeling sympathy for Cahit- but obviously, this is not a movie where you will find characters you can respect or admire. I also dislike the cuts to Istanbul scenery where a sort of folk group singing-  they kill the mood rather than adding to it.

Gegen die Wand is rated 8 on IMDB by over 16.000 people. It has won many awards, including the Golden Berlin Bear. It was made in 2004. It has scenes in Turkish and in German with a mixed cast. Both Birol Ünel and Sibel Kekilli are German Turkish. It is not always easy to watch but it is worth your time, no matter where you are from. 7.5/10 from me.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • RSS

Leave a Reply