Year of release: 1995
Directed by: Malik Chibane
Züli Aladag's feature film debut Elephant Heart is a coming-of-age story about a young boxer in the amateur league, who dreams of going professional but has to learn what sacrifices he has to make if he wants to reaslise his ambition. At the centre of the strory is Marco - played by Germany's rising star Daniela Brühl (Good Bye, Lenin! and The Edukators) - a young amateur boxer searching for his own identity.
This relative economic stability also allows these two young beurs to pursue serious relationships with two sisters who represent different types of Maghrebi feminity: the independent, sophisticated Souad and the head-scarf wearing Farida, a devout Muslim. Moussa’s romantic interest in Farida seems thwarted when it transpires that his mother has arranged a marriage with a bride imported from Algeria. However, Myssad, the bride from ‘back home’ does not conform to the ethnic stereotype of a backward Algerian woman but turns out to be just as liberated as Souad. Unwilling to embark upon a marriage based on old customs but not on love, Myssad runs away shortly before the wedding with Moussad. The film’s final sequence shows Myssad together with Souad and Farida on their way to the airport, where Myssad will catch a flight back to Algeria. Significantly, it is the three young women – and in particular the imported Algerian bride – who function ‘as agents of integration and change’ (Tarr 2005: 79) by defying the traditional practice of arranged marriage and by rejecting the headscarf, which Farida eventually takes off.