Le Grand Voyage

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Le Grand Voyage
Directed by Ismaël Ferroukhi
Produced by Humbert Balsan
Written by Ismaël Ferroukhi
Starring Nicolas Cazalé,
Mohamed Majd
Distributed by Pyramide Distribution
Release date
  • September 7, 2004 (2004-09-07)
Running time
108 minutes
Country France, Morocco, Bulgaria, Turkey
Language Moroccan Arabic

Le Grand Voyage is a 2004 film written and directed by Ismaël Ferroukhi. The film portrays the relationship between father and son as both embark on a religious pilgrimage trip by car. The film won the Golden Astor for Best Film at the 2005 Mar del Plata International Film Festival, also was shown at the prestigious 2004 Toronto and Venice International Film Festivals.


Réda (Nicolas Cazalé) is a French-Moroccan teenager due to sit for Baccalauréat. When his devout father (played by Mohamed Majd) asks Réda to accompany him on a pilgrimage to Mecca, he reluctantly agrees. However, the father insists that they travel by car. As both embark on a road trip thousands of kilometers away from southern France, the once-icy father-and-son relationship starts to thaw as both gradually come to know each other. Réda speaks only in French to his father, who is seen speaking only Arabic for the majority of the film. Later, when necessary, the father proves that he, in fact, speaks impeccable French; his choice to speak only Arabic to his son is, therefore, purposeful.[1]

Along the way, the two meet several interesting characters. They encounter an aged woman clad in black. Though they attempt to leave her behind, she repeatedly reappears in various scenes. The son learns about Islam and why his father thought it would be preferable to make the pilgrimage by car rather than by plane. Throughout the trip, different situations expose how different the father and son are through their actions and outlooks. In one instance, after the father claimed to have been robbed, Réda refuses to part with any of the remaining money when a mother with a child asks him for some, but his father readily gives the woman money.

During their journey, Réda dreams that he is watching his father herding goats, but does not respond when he calls out for his father to save him from quicksand.

After all their hardships, they reach Mecca but the father dies soon after the first day. That night, he is still looking for his father, but instead, sees a person herding goats who barely glances at him. After he finds out his father dies, he sells his car and gives to a beggar on the street.

The route taken by the father and son goes from Provence, France through Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria, and Jordan before reaching Saudi Arabia.



Most scenes that were set in the Middle East were shot in Morocco. However, some scenes involving the two principal actors were shot in Mecca. While the Saudi Arabian government had previously permitted documentary crews to shoot in Mecca, this was the first fiction feature permitted to shoot during the Hajj. The film's director, Ismaël Ferroukhi, said that while shooting in Mecca, "no one looked at the camera; people didn't even seem to see the crew – they're in another world."[2]


Le Grand Voyage has an 83% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[3]


  1. ^ "An Interview with Filmmaker Ismaël Ferroukhi". World Literature Today. 2007-01-01. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  2. ^ "The long and winding road". The Guardian. 2005-10-07. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  3. ^ "Le Grand Voyage (2005)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 3, 2017. 

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