‘Crossing the Bridge’ Is a Musical Tour of Turkey With a Funky Guide
By MANOHLA DARGIS Published: June 9, 2006 Movie Review — NYT Critics' Pick
If life were fair and film exhibition better, you could watch Fatih Akin’s musical mystery tour “Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul” while standing up, or, more ideally, while swaying, spinning and shimmying. An infectiously enjoyable survey of contemporary Turkish music, the documentary works as a corollary to Mr. Akin’s breakout fiction film, “Head-On.” A tough-love romance about cultural identity and the sustaining joys of punk rock, that film brought Mr. Akin, a German native born to Turkish immigrants, international acclaim.
This new film feels like something of a gift, as if the director had decided to burn some of his favorite songs for his newfound friends, the world-cinema audience.
To help him with his survey, Mr. Akin, who wrote and directed the film and also served as a camera operator, has enlisted Alexander Hacke, the bassist from the industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten. Narrating in German, the bushy-faced Mr. Hacke makes a wonderfully appealing guide, partly because he’s an unabashed enthusiast, partly because he’s a genuine character.
The musician is clearly following a path laid out for him by the filmmaker, whether he’s conducting interviews with fellow musicians or roaming the city’s atmospheric streets. Yet while the whole thing could come off as perilously twee, the artificiality of Mr. Hacke’s role and the setup (he checks into the same Istanbul hotel that the hero in “Head-On” stays in) only adds to the film’s unexpected charm.
Like the characters in “Head-On,” Istanbul straddles two distinct, sometimes conflicting and violently contradictory worlds. On both sides of the Bosporus strait, the city brings together the continents and cultures of Europe and Asia in a single geographically unique, heterogeneous package that clearly fascinates Mr. Akin…
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Brief introduction to the film and discussion afterwards by PhD Candidate Danielle Verena Kollig