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Film / Journey of Hope

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Journey of Hope (Reise der Hoffnung) is a 1990 film from Switzerland directed by Xavier Koller.

Despite being a Swiss production the bulk of the film is in Turkish. Haydar is a Kurdish Turk with seven children, eking out a minimal existence as a farmer. After receiving a postcard from a cousin in Switzerland about how great it is to live in Switzerland as a guest worker, he makes a radical decision: to leave his seven children with relatives and emigrate, with his wife Meryem, to Switzerland.

Haydar commits fully, selling his thresher and other farming tools in order to raise the money for a passport and visa and travel expenses. Meryem agrees only with great reluctance until, right before it's time to leave, changing her mind and refusing to abandon the children. Haydar only gets her to agree to come along by agreeing to take one of the kids, their son Mehmet Ali, along with them. This decision leads to a series of disasters.



  • All for Nothing: They don't even make it to Switzerland. Haydar, Meryem, and the rest of their party get lost in the mountain pass and wind up getting rescued/arrested by Swiss border personnel.
  • Angry Guard Dog: The guard dog at the Alpine border pass precipitates the final disaster, causing the party to split up when they flee, and separating Haydar and Mehmet Ali from Meryem.
  • Burning the Ships: Haydar sells off all his farming tools to prepare for his journey.
  • Country Mouse: Haydar, a rube from the backwoods of Turkey, is completely out of his depth when dealing with shady city slickers.
  • Death of a Child: Mehmet Ali freezes to death before his father can make it down the mountainside to safety.
  • Downer Ending: Ends with Mehmet Ali dead and Haydar under arrest, probably facing a prison term before deportation.
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  • Fatal Family Photo: Although it isn't a photo of family. Mehmet Ali pulls out his Polaroid of the friendly Italian truck driver as the group is struggling up the mountainside. It is still clutched in his hand when his father flags down a car, after Mehmet Ali has frozen to death.
  • Human Traffickers: Haydar and his family deal with a series of increasingly slimy human traffickers, culminating in the two scumbags who abandon them in the Alps.
  • Idiot Ball: Choosing to bring their son without getting him a passport, and then not telling their broker in Istanbul until it's time for the ship to leave, was a very bad decision.
  • The Illegal: The decision to take Mehmet Ali along with them makes the family this. Since he doesn't have a passport the three of the have to resort to illegal means to sneak into Switzerland.
  • Karma Houdini: Nothing at all happens to the smugglers who abandon their charges in the Alps. The last we see of the one guy who was driving the truck is a scene where he sees the border guards peeling out of the station.
  • Match Cut: One of the men pulling out a knife to slaughter a sheep at a party is matched with a woman using a knife to slice a large pancake.
  • Silent Credits: The depressing ending is reinforced by complete silence as the credits roll.
  • Snow Means Death: After the group of Turks is abandoned by their coyotes, they are forced to attempt to cross the Alps on foot. Haydar and Mehmet Ali get lost crossing the pass, and the boy freezes to death.
  • A Storm Is Coming: An ominous storm rumbles as Haydar comes home right after selling off his stuff.

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