Le Grand Voyage: Review

Le Grand Voyage

It has been 16 years since the release of Ismael Ferroukhi’s relationship dramady Le Grand Voyage, and it is as relevant today as it was back then. The film follows Reda who, despite studying for exams, agrees to take his illiterate father on a pilgrimage to Mecca from France, bay car.

This film was the first that the Saudi Arabian government agreed to film in Mecca. Up until then, it was only documentaries that were permitted. 

The themes of generational gaps, religious identity and language barriers fuel this film’s touching plot, as Reda learns the ways of his father, and how, eventually, they impact his own future. 

The luscious cinematography of European landscapes such as Italy, Serbia and Turkey seem very poignant in the current political climate. The constant travelling between countries the two take show how different cultures are with a quick drive through boarder control.

Nicolas Cazale’s (Reda) interpretation of teenage angst lifts the film’s comic spine, whilst Mohamed Majd (the father) plays the wise, yet insular old man brilliantly. A film like this may not work nowadays, what with fancy sat nav phones and cars that can thaw us out of a snow storm, but this must-see spiritual ‘road trip’ film is timeless in it’s own way.

The final scenes of the film in Mecca are truly awe inspiring, and quite unlike anything seen on film without the use of special effects (perhaps the easiest comparison is Gandhi). A sea of white cloth, all together in one place in unison. 

So, to use a surprise Oscar winning director’s quote that seems to have been reshaped into a meaningful instagram square…’once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles’ – you’ll learn to re-love some French classics? 

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Filmmaker Grace was born and raised just outside of Oxford in a small town called Woodstock by her single-mother. She spent much of her childhood entertaining herself by singing, playing music and acting out plays and film scenes in her loft and garage.


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