The film explores the difference in experiences between a devout Muslim father and his secular son as they embark on a pilgrimage to Mecca. From the outset it is important to note that for a devout Muslim such as Reda’s father and a teenage son who is less concerned about religion. The relationship between the father and the son is tense given the fact that the former is a committed Muslim while the latter is not. Their differences in opinion regarding religion, particularly Islam, cause the son to be reluctant to drive his father from the south of France through several countries to Mecca. Reda does not understand why his father cannot take a plane and complains that he will miss the upcoming exams in school.
The relationship between Reda and his father deteriorate further at the initial stages of the journey when Reda realizes that his phone is missing and that his father has gotten rid of it hence he is unable to communicate with his girlfriend. However, without a phone Reda has no option but to communicate to his father. Their relationship also becomes strained when Reda invites a female dance to a hotel where he and his father are staying in and his latter discovers him. However, during the course of the journey, their sullen resentment towards each other’s beliefs gradually turns to respect and admiration for one another.
The father practices his religion through actions. He does not boast about his religion neither does he force his children to follow Islam. Instead, he is determined to live by the Islamic faith hoping that his children will see the good in the religion, understand it, and hopefully become staunch Muslims on their own volition.
There is some level of evolution in Reda’s understanding of his father’s religion particularly when he witnesses uncountable number of Muslim believers. Reda’s understanding of his father’s religion further changes for the better when he realizes that he is unable to communicate effectively with people from Arabic countries but his father can. The more the son relies on his father the more he respects his cultural beliefs.
Ultimately, the pilgrimage has had a considerable effect on Reda and there is no doubt that he will return to France as a changed person. The challenges to maintaining some form of Islamic identity within the secular, western context include the perception that religion including Islam is unfashionable and associated with the aged people. There is also an aspect of stereotyping of the Muslims by the Western cultures that perceive Islam as a monolithic culture lacking dynamism; this explains why Reda disregards his father’s beliefs prior to the voyage.
WhiteRain H. J. (2016, Feb. 28). Le Grand Voyage. [Video File]. Retrieved from