Migrant and Diasporic Cinema in Contemporary Europe

Migrant and Diasporic Cinema in Contemporary Europe

Le Grand Voyage

Ismaël Ferroukhi (2004)

France, Morocco

Genre: Road Movie

Ismaël Ferroukhi's first feature is a sweet-natured and affecting road movie about an elderly Moroccan exile in France forcing his irreligious younger son to drive him on a 3,000 mile Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. We don't get offered many novel variations on this classic theme: no prizes for guessing if father and son have arguments but wind up treasuring each other. But it is made notable and even remarkable for the unprecedented scenes at Mecca itself.
Though documentarists have been permitted to shoot there in the past, this is the first time for a feature film, and Ferroukhi has his characters mingling with the pilgrims making the hajj - two million extras! It really is an incredible spectacle: an authentic religious phenomenon which is largely invisible and under-imagined in Western culture. That extraordinary panorama of white-clad pilgrims crowding into the mosque's inner terraces has not yet been rendered familiar as an image in the same way as, say, St Peter's in Rome. In some ways it is a pity that the scenes in Mecca do not occupy more of the film, yet without the long build-up, showing the feuding father and son driving through Europe and the Middle East, the final section wouldn't count for as much. There are very good performances from Mohamed Majd and Nicolas Cazalé as father and son. Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 14 October 2005


Keywords: Road movie; father-son relationship; religion

Posted by Daniela Berghahn on 03 Sep 2009 •





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