Home, Alienhood and Transience in Stephen Frears’ “Dirty Pretty Things” and Fatih Akin’s “The Edge of Heaven”

By Gesa Zinn.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Migration is the topic of my essay “Home, Alienation and Transience in Stephen Frears’ “Dirty Pretty Things” (2002) and Fatih Akin’s “The Edge of Heaven” (2007). In this essay I show how class, gender, and immigrant status inform the alien experiences of the films’ lead characters. While emphasizing the lives of the “underdogs”–illegal immigrants in London who attempt to stay alive by doing the dirty work the British will not touch–I compare their exile experiences with those of the main characters in Akin’s film, in which Germans with and without migrant backgrounds criss-cross between Germany and Turkey. In my analysis of the characters’ inner and outer journeys I show how they confront and conquer barriers that lead to new beginnings. I am drawing from various theoretical sources, including Julia Kristeva’s work on the foreigner, Katarzyna Marciniak’s on alienhood, and Homi Bhabha’s on exile.

Keywords: Exile, Transience, Migration, Foreigner, Home, Cinema, Europe

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp.271-284. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 784.669KB).

Prof. Gesa Zinn

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, The University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, Minnesota, USA

Gesa Zinn is Associate Professor of German Studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth. After finishing primary and secondary schools in Germany, she earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees at California State University and the University of Minnesota. Zinn has published articles on pedagogy, culture, film and literature and is the co-author of FEMALE EXILES IN TWENTIETH AND TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY EUROPE. She is currently working on a book-length study about Gypsy women in the Federal Republic of Germany.


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