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journey of hope

February 2, 2012

Please give your thoughts about Journey of Hope.  Try to focus specifically on what affected you, what you liked or didn’t like and why, and also any questions you have about the film.  You might also compare this film to others or relate the film to thoughts about the world today.  Another option is to respond to one or more other posts about this film.  But, please, try to write only based on your viewing of the film itself and what you thought or felt.

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23 comments

  1. I was really shocked that the little boy died in this film. If anything I thought that the father might die and the little boy would grow up to be very successful and able to provide for his family. I really liked the development of Haydar throughout the film. At first he seemed to want to go to Switzerland for all of the wrong reasons. However, in the end it was apparent that he really was doing everything for his family. The fact that he failed is what’s devastating. While he was crying over his child’s body, all I could think of was how he would have to live with that for the rest of his life. Knowing that he was the one who made the boy leave Turkey in the first place. For me this film brought about feelings of guilt and thankfulness. As this is an issue that people deal with everyday. I think it makes the audience question why they have been so lucky as to have life so easy.

    Also, I think that the scene where Haydar told his wife the news about their son was very effective. It almost was more emotional since we couldn’t hear what he was actually saying to her, just her shrill scream.


  2. There are many things I would like to note about Journey of Hope. I thought Haydar’s character was developed very well. It was obvious that he thought a “better life” meant having more money in the end. Little did he know that he would value his family more than money once he arrived to Switzerland. In the opening scenes, he treated his children roughly and his wife distantly. By the end, he was clinging to his son and embraced his wife when telling her of the devastating news of their son’s death. I was also surprised at the amount of people that helped Haydar’s family. I wanted to trust everyone as Haydar did, but felt that every new group of people were going to take their money and push them into the streets. And, Mehmet Ali was the glue that kept everyone together and captured my heart. He had a clear vision of hope. I was so nervous when he dangled the dental floss over the truck driver’s head, but he ended up being the best friend of the Haydar at the end.


    • I was also surprised at the number of people that were so willing to help Haydar’s family. I was so sure that one of them was going to be conniving and turn them in, but that never happened. Even the police officers at the entrance of Switzerland the first time they tried to get in in the truck, they didn’t banish them back to Turkey or put them in prison. They simply sent them to the train station to go back to Italy. I thought that was pretty tame considering some of the measures that could have been taken to ensure that illegal immigrants were not crossing the border. I, too, was also surprised at the politeness and genuine interest of the truck driver. I don’t think he would have been as accommodating if the boy had not been with, since in the beginning he didn’t even want to drive them in the first place and demanded more cash.


  3. I liked this movie although it was very sad and disturbing. I feel like it showed how money isnt everything and in the end Haydar probably realized that he was so fortunate before in that he had his family all together and they were healthy and happy. In the end all he got from trying to leave was the loss of his son and nothing left because he sold everything he owned. I really wished the son would have lived in the end but this is a very realistic movie in that under such conditions it was likely that the little boy couldnt pull through. I thought a lot about their decision to take their son with them. I am a mother and in the beginning of the film I totally emapthized with the mother because she wanted to take her children along with them. I would want to be with my child too but in the end I see that it would have been better to have all your children at home where they were safe and looked after by the grandparents instead of the risks they put their child through which of course ended tragicly. I would have liked to know more at the end of the movie for us to just get a taste of what happened when they went back home but the movie kind of just leaves you there feeling hopeless as Haydar feels.


    • It left me with a lot of questions as well, especially about what will happen with the rest of the family. Haydar and his wife, Meryem, had said throughout the movie that they couldn’t go back, that there was nothing left for them there, but I get the feeling that their home is all they have left at the end of this movie. If they don’t go back, then what? And if they do, what will the rest of the family say?

      Silly as it sounds, it reminds me a bit of the part in Jack and the Beanstalk where Jack buys the magic beans with the last of the money. Haydar has spent the last of the money on a fruitless trip that leaves him with only a dead son. There is no beanstalk to climb at the end. There is no golden goose or harp. The family is left with no money, no hope at home, and no hope abroad.

      I’m left with a big “now what?”, which almost bothers me more than all of the terrible things that have happened throughout the film. Maybe not knowing what is coming in the darkness ahead is worse than seeing what has already passed for them.


  4. This was definitely the most soul crushing film I’ve seen in the past two or three weeks, with the death of the boy and the dashed hopes that were based on lies to begin with. I thought the death of the child was coming at some point, the way the film portrayed him as spreading happiness and joy to everyone he met, as a source of cheer and innocence. And how every character fell in love with him almost at first sight, he immediately brightened their day. You had to believe that it was too good to last, he was the least deserving of death (not that anyone in the film deserved death (maybe besides those who lied and swindled the families of all their earnings)) and so he would probably die. I figured the last shot of the film would be him alone, abandoned in the snowy mountains looking at the picture of the driver sticking his tongue out, which would have been a fitting final shot if they chose to focus on immigration and the silly strictness of the laws some countries enforce, rather than the risks you run by putting all your eggs in one basket. In that regard this film reminded me of ‘Babel’ and ‘The Visitor’, dealing with all the hardships and struggles people experience attempting to cross the border.

    And I’ll agree that the scene where Haydar had to tell his wife about their sons death was one of the most powerful and effective scenes of the entire film. We knew exactly what was happening, and by focusing from a distance on her reaction alone and not the words he said we received a much stronger blow than had we been up close.


    • I also thought the scene where Haydar tells his wife that their son died is maybe the most powerful scene in the whole movie. Like you said, we can’t hear what he is saying. I don’t even think he says anything. But her reaction to his silence and his reaction to her is enough without words. I thought this also showed the strong Mother- child relationship that we saw throughout the whole movie. She had no strong intentions of leaving her children, she did not want to at all. And every step of the journey she always had the boy in her sight. When they were together, she was constantly holding onto him or being near him somewhere.


  5. I can honestly say that the film ended just the way that I thought it would. The way that it was set up, the look of the film as a whole told me that someone would die and it would probably be the son. The son’s character was too vivacious for the light to not be snuffed out by film’s end. Though I guessed the ending, it was still sad to see. What is the message of this film? I got several things from it. First, that there is no success without sacrifice:The parents made it to ‘paradise’ but at what cost? Second, that one needs to take into consideration all aspects of a journey (physical, or mental) before embarking: Had the parents planned on taking their son, with an appropriate passort and such, will the ending have been different? Thirdly: hope is a beautiful and dangerous thing: Turning’s one vision into reality takes a lot of work, dedication and tenacity; you really have to want it, research the pros and cons of it and go for it.

    While watching the film: I felt that Haydar didn’t put his foot down enough. His insecurity in his manhood/plan/hopes/dreams was so disconcerting. I wanted him to tell his wife that she had no say in the matter,(whether she was right or not about taking their children or staying behind isn’t important) I wanted him to speak up on behalf of his wife and child and not sign his life away or allow those men to con him out of his money. It was sad that the average viewer could take one look at the initial broker and see that the ‘journey to hope’ was a scam, yet Haydar had no other options but to believe and give it a try.

    Overall, this film is profound and I love that it ends with no definite conclusion or closure. Perhaps Haydar and his wife builds a new life for themselves in Switzerland and send for their other children. Perhaps Haydar dies a miserable death in a refugee camp. Who knows! In the end we can make up our own ending and that gives me a tiny glimmer of hope for Haydar and his family.


  6. One major thing I didn’t like about the film was that Haydar barely ever stood up for his family. They were pushed around so many times by the people who were supposed to be helping them, and he never fought back until the very end, when the officers wanted to take him without his son. Every time his family was deterred for some reason, he just sort of took it. I’m not sure what my expectations were for him, but I thought that he would argue with some of them. It seemed to me that Meryem had more integrity than Haydar at some points. She admitted when things felt wrong to her and when they shouldn’t trust one of the people. She plainly said when she thought something was a bad idea or a good idea or when they were just being plain stupid.

    One thing that surprised me towards the end of the film was the interest of the Swedish policemen in the Turkish refugees. They genuinely wanted to find them, even though they were tresspassing in their country. They pulled out all the stops in order to find Haydar and his son, and the other refugees because they didn’t want them to get lost and die in the vast snowy mountain land. I’m not sure why this surprised me. I guess I was just expecting them to be so angry that there were people tresspassing, to not care about their wellbeing. I suppose this goes to show that there are people on the “bad guy” side (Switzerland in this case) that do care about the wellbeing of all humans.

    I related this movie to the movement that’s constantly happening in the United States with illegal immigrants from Mexico. It never occurred to me that the same thing happens all over the world in other neighboring countries. I thought this movie could give an accurate description of anyone that is trying to flee their country for a better life in another one, not just particularly pertaining to the Turkish and the Swedish.

    And of course, the topic that everyone has chose to write about so far- the little boy. I’m glad they chose to keep him in this movie. It would have been very drab and dull had they not. I liked someone’s description in class about how they thought the depiction of the little boy’s journey was more about how children are innocent but the world tears them apart. The young boy was the epitome of innocence throughout the entire movie. But the longer the journey, the worse it got for him. The parents sacrificed the safety of themselves and their child for a chance at a better life that they weren’t even sure existed. Life may have been bad for them in Turkey, that may be true, but it couldn’t have been so horrible that their children wouldn’t survive because they had seven of them and they were all healthy. I think they took for granted what they did have in life and risked it all for a chance at a better one. I thought this was actually kind of selfish because they knew from the beginning that they couldn’t take the kids. Only from extreme pleading from Meyrem did Haydar even decide to take one child. He was completely content with leaving them behind, and who is to say they would ever come back for them? I thought Meyrem was a much better parent than Haydar. She refused to leave her children until Haydar agreed that one could come with. I understand that they were potentially trying to make a better life for their kids as well, and come back for them later, but that did not really sound like Haydar’s plan from the beginning. It seemed as though he was very much interested in his own wellbeing.


    • I don’t know why I said “Swedish”. I meant “Swiss”


  7. I enjoyed the film. I can’t say exactly what I was expecting out of it, but I could tell that Haydar and his (condensed) family were not going to have an easy excursion towards prosperity.

    The poverty is what affected me most. The first 20 minutes or so takes place in their village in Turkey, and it was fascinating to see how their community behaved. It seemed that the low-income community was not divided by their financial troubles, but rather, united by them. Of course, there was a class struggle, but a higher class wasn’t present for viewers to differentiate between the two. It was a one-shot look into a community that banded together to survive. However, when advancement in the village was no longer an option, alternatives had to be considered.

    On the whole, Western societies do not take well to immigrants. It’s clear in the broad media, as well as the text book for this class, “Screening Strangers”. The dangers and uncertainty the Seners faced, I feel, should not happen to anyone. The inherent elitism of the emigration process was portrayed very well, which is why that part was heartbreaking.


  8. This film is heartbreaking. Although I’ve seen this film before, watching it for a second time made me reconsider certain themes presented in the film. Obviously this film is about one man’s desire to provide the best he can for his large family. The journey of hope lies, however, across the sea, unknown to Haydar. I found that his relentless pursuit to travel to Switzerland rather exhausting. Everything he had to sell in order to come up with the right amount of money to travel seemed as though he was setting himself up for failure. Yet, we as audience members feel inclined to keep watching in hopes that this family’s journey will end positively. Taking the everyday working man and sending him on a journey to find better ways to serve his family is a common narrative story. I was honestly surprised that Haydar felt the urge to get up, sell his land, and leave his family behind (all in their best interest of course). I was really torn when the mother had to decide whether or not to go along with her husband. I also felt that the idea of leaving things behind began to reappear throughout later parts of the film. For instance, when someone threw the extremely faithful man’s suitcase down the side of the mountain, I felt as though the film was going downhill from there. Plus, when most of the group splits up in order to escape the police from catching them, most of the group members leave their luggage behind.

    I also felt that the film did a great job in exhibiting the reality of what these people have to go through in order to better their lives. I believe one scene that will always surface in my mind when I think of this film is the scene in which the mother finds out that her little boy has died. The screaming, although diminished by the glass wall in between the characters and the viewers, is devastating to watch. This story brings about the truth accompanying the people who dare to travel and cross the boundaries into other countries illegally. I agree with what has been posted on this forum, that without the little boy, this film would have been extremely painful and rather dull to watch. Although the boy’s death is tragic, the moments in the film where he is full of life and vigor are the moments I believe make the film watchable. This film’s title, Journey of Hope, really seems ironic in sense. Still, it’s a humanistic quality that somewhere over the rainbow lies a world a little better than the one we’re living now…and who can blame someone for hoping a little too much?


  9. I agree with most of the sentiments here. I realize that the death of the young boy may have been a bit predictable in hindsight, but I honestly was not expecting that to happen when I was watching the film. The film was clearly going in that emotional direction, and leaving the death off at the last few minutes of the film gives a sense of uncertainty and leaves the audience to think about how this applies to reality. The message I get from the film is that illegal immigration is a modern issue concerning real human beings willing to take the risks and hardship that come with the journey. The realistic depiction of this striving family and the people surrounding them throughout the story reinforces the idea that the filmmakers wanted it to remain in the consciousness of their audience. I believe they accomplished just what they set out to do.


  10. As soon as the parents had agreed to take the little boy along, I knew something bad was going to happen. Generally, I’ve learned that any time children or animals are introduced in movies, something bad will happen to them. Sometimes, it’s only minimally bad and the character rises above it to have a pleasant, happy ending. But judging from the content of this movie, I knew long before it was over that this wasn’t going to be the case.
    It seemed like every person the family met (with the exception of the truck driver, and the other Turkish people) was untrustworthy, and merely out to squeeze every last dollar from their pockets. It was upsetting to watch, to think that there are people like this in the world who use a family’s hopes against them. There were even times where I thought some of the other people they traveled with were out to get them.
    It wasn’t until the end that I finally started trusting, of all people, the Germans that they came into contact with at the end of the movie. The only upsetting thing here was that THESE were the people they had been taught to fear. That these people would deport them as soon as look at them. But when the women told the police that there were others on the mountain, they were the first to go out into the snow and look for the missing people. It didn’t matter that they were illegal immigrants. They were people, and their lives were at stake. I was only disappointed that it took so long for the immigrants to be treated fairly. To be treated AS people. And I was further disappointed that the immigrants were so afraid of the police, that they avoided them at first. Perhaps the boy’s death could have been avoided.


  11. This film made me feel very grateful for the opportunities and the way of life that I enjoy. Haydar spends the entire film running after a dream and getting screwed over in the process. Some people did help them out but overall it seemed like they were getting scammed most of the film. I spent a large part of the film wondering what was going to happen to Mehmet Ali because he just seemed too trusting and like he was the only thing that gave the family any sort of happiness at all, The truck driver was a breath of fresh air because he seemed to genuinely want to help the family until the police got involved. The film describes how very difficult it is to be an immigrant and to try to make a better life for yourself and family.
    It was very heart wrenching to watch them go to all the trouble of getting to their “paradise” just to have Mehmet Ali die the tragic death he did. When the father told the mother of the death it was probably one of the most depressing scenes I have seen in a very long time. The fact that you didn’t know what he was saying and only heard her scream was very powerful and horrifying. By the end Haydar seems to realize what he has lost chasing after his dream and how rich he was just having his family all be together and healthy. It was a tough life lesson to learn but also a very powerful one.


  12. Like others, I found a death in Haydar’s family inevitable. I thought that the problems would come with the wife at the beginning when she was so hesitant to leave the children. When they decided to bring the son, I thought that his life would be the one in danger. I think that the two of them were singled out as the weaker ones when she got sick on the boat, and he got sick on the truck. I knew when the weather was mentioned multiple times that a snowstorm would be added onto their list of problems. I was upset with how the people ‘helping’ them were the people taking advantage of them. They knew how desperate the family was, and also saw their son as a way to take further advantage of them, like with Haydar working in the factory. This movie made me see how dangerous immigration can be, but also now necessary it might be for a family. There are real concerns and reasons that families feel the need to become illegal immigrants. This movie allowed me to see the extremes that people have to go through in order to get a new life, a life that isn’t even a guarantee that things will be better.


  13. As I was watching the film, I couldn’t help but think “Great. They have given us an endearing character in this little boy, and they’ll probably kill him off in the end.” As much as I hoped this wouldn’t be the case, it was. I really felt as if i was a part of the family’s journey. Time and time again I was surprised that while the shady characters who were “helping” them ripped them off, they turned out to be trustworthy on some level in the end. As others have said, watching this film has made me think about my life and how many opportunities I have. I don’t really think about the problems others have in terms of making a life for themselves and their families. Even though there was so much drama and sadness, especially in the end, the film ends so abruptly but we can’t help continuing to hope that their lives will get better.


  14. Throughout this whole film I was waiting for that child to die. Every time the family met someone new or had to change a plan I was sure they were going to be beaten, robbed and left to die on the side of the road. Every time this didn’t happen all I could think was, “The next guy they meet is going to kill them.”
    I was angry through the entire movie because the family could not trust anyone fully. Even the nice man in the truck who came back at the end was ready to sell them out at the slightest provocation. I don’t understand why he didn’t just hide them!
    In spite of my fear for the characters, I did not like them right from the start. I hated Haydar from the moment he told his son he was good for nothing and his wife never showed an ounce of practicality. She trusted untrustworthy people and she insisted on changing their plans after they had already been set. Many of the terrible things that happened to them happened because they could not just follow the plan.
    The only character I felt any positive feelings toward was the boy. He was adorable. And then he died. I went home and told my roommates that I needed a drink because I was so distraught.
    However, his death did make me feel a bit for his parents. The scene when his father tells his mother he’s dead was the most moving moment in the film and I wanted to cry for them.


    • I agree entirely that I didn’t have much sympathy for Haydar at first. He didn’t seem to care for his family at all, neither his kids nor Meryem. He was all too reasy to leave everything, including the rest of his family, for the hope of an easier life. I wouldn’t say I hated him, but I certainly didn’t like him or feel much remorse. I sympathized with Meryem a little more as I saw her struggling with leaving her children, but she was still far from being perfect.

      However, that’s exactly why I think the film was so moving. Would you feel as strongly about it if the characters went from being perfect to more perfect? I loved seeing them grow from people who only seemed to care for the hope of money into people who truly valued what little they had left. It would never be as great of a film without that continual growth and insight of the characters. We get to see them become better people through their struggle.

      I like to think of the son as the catalyst for this change. Without him, there might not have been any growth. With his personality and love and eventual death there is a reason for the parents to grow and for the storyline to move.


  15. Personally I did not enjoy the film. I thought that the people that were trying to help Haydar’s family only took advantage of them. Haydar was far too concerned with money and gaining happiness in a new land than appreciating what he had in front of him. Throughout the entire film I was certain that someone in Haydar’s family would die. It did not shock me when his son was pronounced dead, but what I did find disturbing was that Haydar’s wife is now left alone in a foreign country, when she herself did not want to go in the first place. I also think the title of this movie is both ironic and cruel. “Journey of Hope” leaves us to believe that there will be some kind of excursion that will lead to a happy place or that is an easy voyage, yet it is quite the opposite. This is an excursion that leads to death,jail, and despair nor is it at any point easy for them. They are hustled by almost everyone and turned over to the authorities by the truck driver who appears to be a friend. Their hope and good life was back in Turkey, not Switzerland.
    I did like the others that were traveling with them however. These people understood each other and truly did their best to help each other. This was the only thing that I actually liked about the movie.


  16. I couldn’t help but think about the parrallels to our own “American Dream” after seeing Journey of Hope. Abandoning a relatively stable, but meager, life for the chance to possibly attain a fleeting amount of wealth or social status is a trope that many of our own inspiring stories are based on. Unlike the hopeful tales of immigrants coming to America who go on to become successful and wealthy, Haydar’s hubris that his wife and child would be okay ends up being the thing that ultimately crushes any hope he has for bettering his life. It’s a little unclear what exactly motivates Haydar to uproot his wife and child to begin their journey. The promise of “Paradise” strikes me as flimsy in terms of the practical lifestyle Haydar and his family lead. If a cousin’s postcard is the only signal Haydar needed to sell everything he owned and leave his home I have to wonder what other kind of poor choices he had made in his earlier life.


  17. I thought this was a great film, for the reason that it had a strong story and realistic feel to it. Although it was a sad ending, it raised the realness factor to the film. Unfortunately, stories like this are happening everyday. Immigrants looking for a better life, with no real plan as to how they’re going to succeed once/if they get to their destination. Haydar and his family got taken advantage of throughout their journey, which to me made the film more suspenseful. In the beginning, Haydar went from wanting more from his life and getting frustrated at his family, to in the end wanting nothing more than to be with his family and still have his son alive. He began to show compassion for the first apparent time when the journey began, then it continued throughout the rest of the voyage. The last line of the film sent shivers up my back. When Haydar said, “I would have liked to be your friend”. It just goes with the entire theme of hope, and how he was so hopeful, until their ignorance was washed away and reality hit.


  18. Delaney McDermott
    I think that Journey of hope is movie that everyone should see especially people who see imagrants as just statistics. I think before this I never really thought of individual families struggling to get a better life. The use of repetition of the suitcases seemed to me to be the people in this movie leaving behind their past as well as happiness and starting with only the clothes on their backs. The use of the little boy kept it light hearted throughout the movie but having him die in the end showed the harsh reality of border laws. I think it had to end this way because it is something that will stick in the minds of many other people. I think everyone can connect with children so using one as a tool to educate people and capture an idea is beautiful and also tragic. I think I will always remember this movie and I also will be happier at the things I take for granted.



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