"Journey of Hope"
*** A Turkish family tries to make it to Switzerland.
CAST: Necmettin Cobanoglu, Nur Surer
DIRECTOR: Xavier Koller
RATING: No rating.
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes JOURNEY of Hope," winner of the Academy Award for best foreign language film of 1990, is, despite its title, a tale of wearing desperation. A story of hope and ultimate disillusionment, it is an absolute downer.
Made in Turkey, Italy and Switzerland by Xavier Koller, "Journey of Hope" begins in Turkey, where a father of seven decides to migrate to Switzerland with his wife and one of his sons, a boy of about 10.
They meet an unusual number of good people. They also meet a few bad guys, just like the people who prey on the Mexicans who illegally cross the border into this country. The good guys help the Turks make their way to Switzerland. The bad guys take them for all the money they have.
The bad guys, however, don't do the migrating Turks any bodily harm. The weather takes care of that. The Turks, used to a warmer clime, are not prepared for the snows of northern Italy and Switzerland, and tragedy results.
Koller, who wrote and directed the film, says he got his story from newspaper accounts and that all the details are factual. That's good, but it would have been nicer if he had changed the ending, making it a little more uplifting. A film as detailed and as manipulative as this one deserves a more hopeful ending. The audience deserves it, too.
The film has been made with extreme care. Done on the actual locations in Turkey, Italy and Switzerland, it is all too real and the actors are completely convincing.
"Journey of Hope" brings the 1978 "Bread and Chocolate" to mind. Made by Italians, "Bread and Chocolate," was the story of a southern Italian who hoped to make it to Switzerland, the land of chocolate and steady employment. The Italian film, however, was not the downer this one is.
There is great resentment in Switzerland against the Turks. There is resentment in Germany against the Turks. There seems to be resentment everywhere these people go, every country they try to adopt. Koller doesn't bother with this. All those characters who help the migrants do not seem to hate them. It may be the only pleasant touch in a film that is otherwise disheartening.
The Baltimore Film Forum will show "Journey of Hope" at the Baltimore Museum of Art tonight at 10:15; tomorrow at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, Aug. 11,at 3 p.m.; Friday, Aug. 16, at 10:15 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 17, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 18, at 3 p.m.
Good movie making it is. Joyful it is not.