The Blend of Cultural Ideas in “Die Fremde”

I watched Die Fremde, (“When We Leave”) at University of Missouri’s Department of German and Russian  Studies “Germany in Europe” Campus Weeks Film Series. The film draws on a recent issue in Germany where Turkish immigrants have been committing “honor killings“; a story that recently gained a lot of press was that of Hatun Sürücü, a women who was honor killed by her brother on a street in Berlin. In Die Fremde, the director Feo Aladag, advocates for women to have the right to leave their husbands or to fight for the life they want.  She is highly involved with stopping violence against women. In this clip, Feo Aladag gives her reason for how this movie got started.

In an article about the film, The LA Times writes about some further points of the director.

“Pakistan has the highest rate of honor killings in the world, Aladag said. “I don’t know the overall number, but there is one province where each year an average of 268 women are killed,” she said. “The problem is that many women in many countries are not registered, so if they disappear…. and it stays within the family or it is covered up as a suicide [there’s no way to track what actually happened]. Under [some Islamic laws] it is not a crime.” LA Times

The Plot of Die Fremde

Umay is a woman who grew up in a Turkish family that lived in Berlin.  Her Turkish parents arranged her marriage and she had a son with her husband in Istanbul.  Her husband abuses and rapes her and abuses her son.  She flees for Germany for freedom.

Umay leaves istanbul with Cem.

Umay leaves istanbul with Cem.

Once she reaches Germany with her son she wants to stay with her family in Berlin.  When they find out she left her husband for good they try to force her to go back and she rejects it.  It is her duty to be a wife and listen to her husband.  Once they realize she won’t go back they try to steal Cem her son and bring him back to Istanbul.  Umay calls German police to escort her to a safe house in Berlin.  Umay in this stage is working and met a German man.

Her brothers find where she lives and create havoc for the safe house. They say she has ruined the family name and embarrassed their family.  She then leaves the safe house and lives in the real world with her son.  Umay’s mother meets with her to tell her to go back to Istanbul or she will have to disown her.  Umay denies ever going back and her family pretends she is dead to them.  Umay shows up at her sister’s marriage and

Umay is dead in her family's eyes.

Umay is dead in her family’s eyes.

the family is furious and has the youngest son take her outside while the rest of the family ignores her.

Umay breaks up with her German boyfriend because she only cares for the bettering of her son Cem.  Umay’s father decides to tell Umay’s two brothers to kill her for good called “honor killing.” To protect the family’s honor.  Once her father decides that the next morning he has a heart attack.  Umay then visits him in the hospital and he tells her to forgive him and to leave. Her mother doesn’t say a word to her.  She does so and leaves the hospital.  While walking on the street outside of the hospital her youngest brother asks her if he can walk with them and then pulls a gun on them.  He drops it and then runs for the bus.  The older brother is behind her as she looks at the youngest brother running off.  Cem says her brothers name Umay turns toward him with Cem in her arms and he accidentally stabs Cem instead of Umay.

Theme of Die Fremde

Die Fremde shows the pressure of family reputation in society and the purpose of self-fulfillment clashing.  The image of families in society have a certain idea or image that must be met and fulfilled.  Sometimes family members don’t want the same image or purpose and how they idealize or prioritize things affect each other’s lives.

Another idea is the women in patriarchal societies. Umay is forced to listen to her father and husband who both want tradition and respect to the patriarchal society more than her own needs.  Some women feel neglected, abused and alone in these types of relationships other women like Umay’s mother accept the traditional  patriarchal lifestyle. 

And the influence of two cultures on a person. This movie shows the cultural adjustment in Europe.  It shows the clashing of the Germany and Turkish values. The movie shows the integration in Germany and shows a step forward from its past.

Why It Ended the Way It Did

It ended the way it did to make a point.  I think it ended the way it did because the concerns on how she was living her life were innocent like that of her son and it shouldn’t have mattered how she lived.  I feel as though everyone wanted Cem to have the best life whether it was under the family tradition with his dad or the German culture of his mom.  The reason why she left was for herself and Cem and now that Cem is dead she has nothing to live for and it’s worse than killing her. It is the worst crime to kill a child and it shows a change in reality. When Cem dies it shows the cardinal sin, a child represents the future and life.


According to Rotten Tomatoes 81% of the audience likes the movie and I would have to agree if not give it a higher rating.  It’s relevant to it’s time and shows an international view.  I liked it because it’s about a topic that I wouldn’t have known about and it shows Germany and its European ideas mixing with Middle Eastern ideas. MetaCritic  gave it a rating of 65 and I feel as though this rating is too low for this movie.  I did like a critics comment about the movie Ty Burr from the Boston Globe said, “As powerful as the movie is, it stays on the outside of a culture looking in.”

Another Person Taking a Stand like Feo Aladag…

A German Turkish Rapper, Eko Fresh Ehrenmid, Koln kalk