Orange and Blue Don’t Mesh: The Car as a Symbol of Difference in Identity in Le Grand Voyage


Reda, a young man in high school, is born and raised in France.  His father, a Moroccan man, has only lived there for a short time.  Reda just wants to be a normal guy, hang out with his girlfriend, and finish high school.  The father is a devout Muslim aware of the shortness of his life and just wants to make his pilgrimage to Mecca; with Reda.

Despite similarities of ethnicity and ancestry, Reda and his father are two entirely different people raised in entirely different cultures.  Le Grand Voyage (2004) portrays the struggle that ensues between a father and son who do not value the same things in life and yet strive to overcome their differences for the sake of their love as a family.

As a symbol of identity for both the father and Reda and as a means to represent the disunity between the two is the car Reda drives to take his father to Mecca.  In need of a few touchups and repairs at the beginning of the film the blue car is fitted with a bright orange door.  Blue, the color of peace, serenity, wisdom, and faith in contrast with orange, a vibrant color of energy, exploration, and creativity; it’s not hard to tell which color represents whom.   Because of the father’s strong Moroccan upbringing and Islamic influence, he is a faithful Muslim; he is a quiet man who, as the father and leader, expects to be obeyed the first time he says something.  Reda, despite being Moroccan, does not share his father’s beliefs having been raised in a different country; he is outgoing and strong willed, he wants to have fun and try new things.   The father is blue, Reda is orange.

The camera’s shots of their driving scenes often show the orange side of the car: as they struggle communicating, disagreeing on things, or fighting over what they value.  Seeing the orange door on the blue car signifies their intense disunity.  As father and son work through their differences and come to mutual respect for each other we start to see the blue side of the car more, this is toward the end of the film.  Neither Reda nor his father ever compromise who they are but they grow in terms of understanding of each other and understanding that they need each other and that, even though they are so different, they still love each other.  At the end of the film the disunity of the car becomes irrelevant; Reda sells it.  Disunity is no longer a part of who he is and reconciling with his father, which is more important than his pride, has instead taken place.


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