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Head-On [Gegen die Wand] (2004)

Birol Ünel , Sibel Kekilli , Fatih Akin  |  R |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Birol Ünel, Sibel Kekilli, Güven Kiraç, Zarah Jane McKenzie, Stefan Gebelhoff
  • Directors: Fatih Akin
  • Writers: Fatih Akin
  • Producers: Fatih Akin, Ali Akdeniz, Andreas Schreitmüller, Andreas Thiel, Jeanette Würl
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 2.0), Turkish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Strand Releasing
  • DVD Release Date: September 13, 2005
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009VND0E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,693 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Head-On [Gegen die Wand]" on IMDb

Special Features

  • In German/Turkish with English subtitles
  • Deleted scenes
  • "Making of" featurette
  • Trailer & German promo reel
  • Outtakes

Editorial Reviews

Head-On, Fatih Akin's gritty drama, is like a great punk-rock song-- rough around the edges, but filled with heart. Cahit (Birol Ünel) is a middle-aged drunk whose apartment looks like the toilet in Trainspotting. Sibel (Sibel Kekilli) is a suicidal woman half his age, stuck at home with repressive relatives. They're two troubled Turks, adrift in Germany. A chance encounter at a psychiatric hospital represents a way out. If Cahit will marry her, Sibel can flee her family. They'll accept him, because he's Turkish. As for Cahit, he won't be alone anymore, left to mourn his dead wife and drink his life away. At first, things go as planned. Sibel moves into Cahit's dump and spiffs it up. The two live, eat, and party together, while continuing to see other people. Gradually, their marriage of convenience starts to resemble the real thing--until Cahit's violent tendencies get the best of him. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitting the wall . . . April 24, 2006
For viewers of Hollywood films about marriages of convenience that turn into romantic comedies, this is not another one of those. Which is not to say that the kind of romance that develops between the two central characters doesn't have far reaching effects - living happily together ever after not being among them. Each in his way is redeemed by love, and the viewer is taken along on a long, long journey with many turns, often difficult to absorb. If anything, the film represents the painful conflict at the heart of many Turks living as expatriates in Europe.

The "head-on" car crash that brings the two protagonists together is also about a whiplash collision of cultures that are not only separated by a great distance but also by centuries. It is not surprising that in these circumstances both characters are driven to extremes of behavior. That Cahit and Sibel survive the ordeals they have gone through is partly the result of what they begin to feel for each other, but also important is a return to Turkey where each finds some measure of personal integrity.

The performances in this film are breathtaking. Birol ?nel as Cahit is a Turkish Klaus Kinski with the mercurial "good looks" of Mick Jagger. He is a stormy presence on the screen (and apparently on the set as well) and delivers a disturbing portrayal of self-destructiveness. Sibel Kekilli's peformance is equally astonishing. The DVD has no director's commentary (which would have been interesting), but it includes a number of deleted scenes and out-takes, and an informative and entertaining "making of" featurette by an intern who worked on the film.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite possible THE best movie of the year September 15, 2005
I first saw Head On at a small International film festival shortly after it's theatrical release, and fell in love with it almost immediately! This is by far the best move if the year, and a strong contender for my top 5 movies of all time. It's wide ranging appeal, from the intellectual international crowd who will drool over the interpersonal relationships of the Turkish-German main characters and the cultural aspects of two young, and slightly twisted people dealing with their overly traditional families, to a younger crowd who can appreciate this movie as simply a rocking kick-in-the-pants punk love story, I'm convinced that nearly everyone who sees this movie will love it!! 5 Stars, would give it more if I could! And let's not forget a shout out to Sybel Kekilli, who is one of the most beautiful women on the planet!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intoxicating and shocking July 7, 2005
Always an intoxicating feast for the senses, and at times downright shocking, Head On is quite a departure for Germany's up-and-coming Turkish director Faith Akin. Previously known for kitsch comedies (Im Juli/In July) and touching dramadies (Solino), Akin plunges into his first overwhelmingly dark picture with reckless abandon - and it pays off. If ever there was a film that demanded attention, even from those normally wary of reading at the cinema, this is it.

Head On is a suprisingly beautiful portrait of unconventional love, and it's two leads amaze at every increasingly unbelieveable turn. Birol Unel, who generally plays grizzled thugs, plays... a grizzled thug, but lends his transition into a grizzled thug with a heart incredible believeability and sentiment, as he falls in love with newcomer Sibel Kelkilli's wildly suicidal character. Kelkilli, a former porn star (a fact that didn't come out until Head On was on the festival circuit), handles the film's sexually charged scenes like a pro, unsurprisingly, but it's Unel who surprises most by turning his unattractive character into something pleasantly sexual.

Akin, a DJ before he turned to filmmaking, infuses this film, like all his previous films, with a tantilising and toe-tapping punk-electronica soundtrack, seemlessly fusing narrative action with music unlike any other director of the indie-pop generation. The performances, the music and the surprising beauty of the love story creep up on you, making Head On a must-see for anyone who can stomach a bit of sex and violence for the ultimate movie-going payoff - cinematic AND emotional satisfaction.

One key warning: the scenes of sex and violence (particularly the violence) are VERY graphic. Take this into consideration if you're particularly squeamish.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Harsh, Gritty, Tough...Very Moving Film! March 21, 2006
'Gegen die Wand' in German, 'Duvara karsi' in Turkish, or 'HEAD-ON' in English is an explosive drama written and directed by Fatih Akin, a movie that may be tough to watch, but a movie that has enormous impact. While other films have successfully addressed the particular problems that the immigrant Turkish community in Germany face, few have come as close to examining all sides of the on-going issues of displacement and the effects of familial dispersal in the face of a new culture.

Cahit (Birol Ünel) is a thirty-something lost soul, drinking and snorting himself into oblivion over the loss of his beloved wife. He lives in a slum, spends all his time in sleazy bars getting beaten up for inappropriate behavior until one night he drunkenly drives into a wall (?suicidal?) and ends up in a hospital where he 'meets' Sibel (Sibel Kekilli), a young woman who has again attempted suicide as an escape from her strict family's prevention of her having a life. Hearing Cahit is Turkish, Sibel nonchalantly suggests they 'marry': Sibel's only way to escape her family would be to find a Turkish husband. Though grossly mismatched, the two agree to an 'open marriage', they satisfy Sibel's family, and move in together. Sibel cooks and cleans Cahit's hovel, and then goes out and sleeps around. This arrangement eventually causes problems for each of them and Sibel moves to Istanbul to escape the horrors of the life she has chosen. Once alone, Cahit is confronted with the reality that Sibel is the only path to salvation for his tragic life and the story proceeds - or rather speed drives - its way to a heartrending finish.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing movie! If you have an interest for german ...
Amazing movie! If you have an interest for german culture you will love this. If you just want to watch a quality movie you will love this too! Must see!!!
Published 8 days ago by natacha garcia
5.0 out of 5 stars It's one of my favorite movies and it needs a remastering something...
This needs to come out in Blu-Ray. Yesterday. It's one of my favorite movies and it needs a remastering something bad.
Published 1 month ago by Keith
3.0 out of 5 stars pretty good for a weird offbeat romance
I liked the main actors a lot. The film did fail on plausibility, but nevertheless it was fun to watch. The portrayal of Turkish-German culture was excellent.
Published 4 months ago by P. Mumford
5.0 out of 5 stars A story of search for own identity.
Here we see two individuals that have a hard time to adapt to their present reality and decide to rebel against it leading to self-destructing actions, like driving a car head-on... Read more
Published 4 months ago by ed
1.0 out of 5 stars Didn't Like It!
Two people with destructive behavior indulging in anything to avoid living. The movie was just weird as were the characters.
Published 5 months ago by Betty A
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great movie.
This was recommended to me by a friend and I am so happy I finally watched it. Excellent interesting beautiful movie-no spoilers. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Samantha R.
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good
Interesting look into the rocky journey of two despondent characters who rescue each other from themselves. This is a gritty bumpy ride folks. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Belinda Washington
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites
I'll never forget the first time I saw this movie - it's raw, tender, beautifully written and acted. Not to miss!
Published 8 months ago by Frida Oskarsdottir
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
Extremely well directed, produced and acted. Wow....great flick transcending boarders and cultures. I could hear German, English and Turkish languages and the music was fantastic... Read more
Published 8 months ago by IP Telephony Consultant
2.0 out of 5 stars Not What I Expected
Boring movie that had no plot. Movie would not play properly when I had to pause it and come back to view it.
Published 9 months ago by T. Hayes
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