Title

Otherness and Language in Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar

Subject Area

French and Francophone Studies

Abstract

The main focus of Philippe Falardeau’s film, Monsieur Lazhar, is how the Algerian immigrant aids a classroom of schoolchildren in a Montréal middle school to overcome their grief in the wake of their former teacher’s suicide. The viewer learns that Monsieur Lazhar is also battling his own demons, and the bond he develops with his students as his role of substitute is a much needed distraction for him. Though less of a focus, though still of importance, is the film’s clear and deliberate presentation of Monsieur Lazhar as an “Other” and this is often represented, quite curiously, though his insistence on conforming to the strict language and culture of the French métropole. The reverence that he has of standard French language and culture is reminiscent of what colonized peoples were taught during and after the colonial period, yet ironically his adherence to these norms alienates him from the faculty and staff at the school. This essay seeks to explore the moments in the film where M. Lazhar is culturally and linguistically portrayed as “Other,” concluding that he does so in part to avoid facing the tragedy that occurred while he was in his native country of Algeria.

Brief Bio Note

Dr. Melody Boyd Carrière is an Assistant Professor of French at the University of Louisville in Louisville, KY where she teaches all levels of French language and literature. She periodically teaches Italian language courses as well. She earned her PhD in Comparative Literature from Louisiana State University and her research interests are in 20th and 21st century French, Caribbean, and Italian American literature.

Keywords

Film, Otherness, Colonial, Francophone, The other

Location

Room 221

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-26-2015 10:30 AM

End Date

3-26-2015 11:45 AM

Embargo

5-23-2017

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Mar 26th, 10:30 AM Mar 26th, 11:45 AM

Otherness and Language in Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar

Room 221

The main focus of Philippe Falardeau’s film, Monsieur Lazhar, is how the Algerian immigrant aids a classroom of schoolchildren in a Montréal middle school to overcome their grief in the wake of their former teacher’s suicide. The viewer learns that Monsieur Lazhar is also battling his own demons, and the bond he develops with his students as his role of substitute is a much needed distraction for him. Though less of a focus, though still of importance, is the film’s clear and deliberate presentation of Monsieur Lazhar as an “Other” and this is often represented, quite curiously, though his insistence on conforming to the strict language and culture of the French métropole. The reverence that he has of standard French language and culture is reminiscent of what colonized peoples were taught during and after the colonial period, yet ironically his adherence to these norms alienates him from the faculty and staff at the school. This essay seeks to explore the moments in the film where M. Lazhar is culturally and linguistically portrayed as “Other,” concluding that he does so in part to avoid facing the tragedy that occurred while he was in his native country of Algeria.