Humanism, democracy and enlightenment are the cornerstones of the correct idea of equality before the law. This means that even opponents, or potential opponents of humanism, democracy and enlightenment should be equal before the law - and that is right. If one has internalized humanism, democracy and enlightenment, it is an a priori decision not to slip into the barbarism of the opponents or the supposed opponents. Thus, the mass-murdering German fascists have received constitutional procedures, Islamist head-cutters and bombers are provided with lawyers and vigilante justice is not only frowned upon, but also punishable. If we did not act in this way, we would be taking a step toward the opponents of democratic republics every time and undermining our own idea. The fact that the rule of law cannot work flawlessly and is by no means uncorruptible is part of the critical self-reflection that should be a matter of course in a democracy. There can be misjudgments, prejudiced work, political agendas and so on and so forth. But the detention center at Guantanamo Bay cannot be considered such a mistake, or such a weakness - often reaching into different areas of society - to be dealt with through democratic discourse. Guantanamo is, in fact, the deliberate undermining of the rule of law, the de facto abolition of equal rights and a means of struggle that has nothing to do with the values of humanism, democracy and enlightenment.
Unfortunately, none of this is the subject of this German film, which attempts to retell the story of a Guantanamo prisoner from Germany (but with a Turkish passport) from the point of view of his mother. The film tries to stage an a-typical German film with typical German humor, typical German tragedy and typical German tearjerker - and of course fails on all levels. The jokes are inappropriate and they are not funny at all, the tragedy is flat, which is only built up in individual moments that seem to follow a pattern of sadness. In addition, there are supposedly artistic stagings that are interspersed like little morsels and cry out for the film to be understood as a deep work with great metaphors, but also as one with a true core. The acting performances are admittedly better than in the vast majority of German film productions, but that doesn't make them truly great. It's the same with the narrative structure and the camera work, while the dialogues are as usual underground. But the most tragic thing is the lack of deeper levels of the complex theme that carries the film. This wasted potential would have needed some courage to realize, though. Courage to dive self-critically into one's own hemisphere of politics, society and law, courage to claim the viewer intellectually and courage also to criticize the taint of religious vanity.
The latter would have worked with a simple reference at the end of the film, an insertion of the written word just before the credits. There it could have been mentioned that Kurnaz's motivation, perhaps naively shortly after the horrific attacks on 9/11, was indeed one with extremely religious connotations. It could have been mentioned that Kurnaz was in contact with explicitly anti-Western Islamic groups, such as the anti-intellectual Tablighi Jamaat, which locates Islam more in deed than in word - and certainly not in discourse. There could have been mention of the Gesinnungsfärbung of his Bremen mosque, which cannot exactly be perceived as friendly to democracy, and there could also have been mention of his various contacts with criminal structures in Germany. But all of this seemed to interfere with the narrative that was to be presented here, although if this was the case when the film was made, it can simply be explained as a misguided decision born of despondency. For in fact, as discussed at the beginning of the critique, all this does not change Kurnaz's right to the rule of law, for the rule of law can only exist, indeed, can only be, if it sees itself as universal. None of this would have changed the fact that Guantanamo is an undermining of the rule of law and that the detention of people on this island lacks any basis that humanism, democracy and enlightenment have to offer. Democracy and enlightenment have to offer. Instead, this way the film would have dived deeper, the solidarity would have been for democracy and would not have fallen prey to a senseless dualism, as it is already announced in the title of the film. Instead, a lack of reflection is thrown around, as if this was a kamelle at the Cologne carnival.
His is also evident, but not only, in the treatment of the marriage theme, which has been dealt with here in a visibly culturally relativistic way. The way of arranging a marriage, including bride money, which seems very strange for democrats, to say the least, is simply reproduced here uncritically and made a bit more socially acceptable. What is ignored here is that reactionary cultural traditions weaken a free society and do not promote its pluralism. The courting of this topic is embarrassing, unpleasant and - worst of all - emblematic of modern social discourse. Whereby the designation as discourse is only appropriate here if this is understood as weakening and undermining numerous other discourses, indeed the discursive capacity of a society itself.
Once again a wasted chance of an actually interesting topic for cinema and film and unfortunately, unfortunately typical for Germany.