03 July 2006

La Haine (1995)

Originally inspired by the real-life shooting of a Zairean teenager in police custody in 1993, this film portrays a single day in the life of three young friends from a low-income housing estate on the outskirts of Paris. It's far from an average day for Jewish Vinz, Arab Saïd and black African Hubert, a friend has been beaten to coma in custody while their estate has been rioting.
The trio try to maintain their ducking and diving lifestyle while dodging various dangers the most aggressive being the local police. The tension mounts as the day continues, not helped by a brutal police interrogation for Vinz and Saïd, during which a gendarme explains to a colleague the most effective way to administer a beating, nor by Vinz revealing he's found a police revolver lost during the previous night's riot.
Despite their testing existence the film almost draws towards a happy ending which is then twisted back into cruel reality in the last sad minute.
"La Haine" is an incredible piece of work which has a filmic total far greater than the sum of it's parts. Firstly it's a cracking portrayal of the contemporary France which minorities and the poor find themselves subject to. It's stylishly shot in grainy black and white, with a mix of highly mobile and static cinematography and is perfectly paced. The intense action scenes are short and shaky and those of urban boredom slow and long.
Partly funded by a community arts grant it's unlike any similarily funded film from any other European state. Similarily it was a big success, selling half a million tickets in it's first six weeks of release and even bringing the French Cabinet to arrange a hurried viewing because it created such an incredible domestic political furore.
It also set the three actors and the director on to healthy careers, Vinz was played by a relatively unknown Vincent Cassel who has since become the most famous; Saïd Taghmaoui and Hubert Koundé have also enjoyed many roles since; and the director and writer Mathieu Kassovitz (who also played one of the Front National skinheads) has gone on to most recently direct "Gothika" and star in "Munich".
Finally it had a brief but positive effect on what had become a slightly stale French film industry. It rejected the two most powerful trends; "heritage" films -`le cinéma du patrimoine' such as "Cyrano de Bergerac" which specialise in a tasteful Disneyfication to delight the older more middle-classed viewer; and `le cinéma du look' like "Nikita" based on advertisements and MTV videos aimed at younger escapist viewers. "La Haine" uniquely dared to bring modern and very real problems and tensions to the big screen.
"La Haine" is available on DVD in a number of editions and is rated 15.


Blogger Rebe said...

Hi there! CONGRATULATIONS FOR THE SITE! IT'S AWESOME! I absolutely love "La Haine" and I'm really glad I managed to get a special edition: a lovely tin box with some super extras including colour scenes and interwiew with director Kassovitz about the controversial CPE in France. You can easily find a video in YOUtube of one of the scenes of the film, in case you'd like to post it on your blog. I've done it in mine :-)

Jusqu'ici tout va bien!

9:26 PM  
Blogger Artyblartfast said...

Yes I've got the special edition as well as the regular. It left me wanting to see the film released in colour because it's beautiful.

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