La Haine


1h 35m 1995
La Haine

Brief Synopsis

After a youth is tortured by the police, a riot explodes on the streets of Paris in this examination of racial tensions in France.

Film Details

Also Known As
Haat, Haine, La, Hate, Medan vi faller
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Drama
Crime
Foreign
Release Date
1995
Distribution Company
FRANCE FILMS/GRAMERCY PICTURES
Location
Paris, France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m

Synopsis

The story, unfolding over a 24-hour period, centers on Vinz, Said and Hubert--very close friends from very different backgrounds. Vinz is white and Jewish. Said, an Arab. Hubert is Black. They are three disenfranchised youths trying to find meaning in what appears to be an otherwise meaningless existence. During a riot the night before, a friend of theirs is arrested and then beaten while in police custody. He lies clinging to life in a hospital. One more riot in the drug- and crime-ridden housing projects, one more case of police brutality. Same old shit, only one big difference: a gleaming, chrome-plated Smith & Wesson 44 that falls into their hands, courtesy of the Paris Police Department. The weapon, which one of the riot cops lost during the previous night's chaos, becomes the catalyst for the story's climax.

Film Details

Also Known As
Haat, Haine, La, Hate, Medan vi faller
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Drama
Crime
Foreign
Release Date
1995
Distribution Company
FRANCE FILMS/GRAMERCY PICTURES
Location
Paris, France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m

Articles

La Haine -


La Haine, or Hate, caused a sensation when it was released in France in 1995 for its gritty, vivid and shocking snapshot of life in the "banlieue," or the suburban Parisian housing projects full of low-income immigrants. In the film, three young men, of Jewish, Arab, and black African descent, seethe with anger against the police and the establishment for the beating that left their friend in a coma and triggered a riot. When they find a policeman's gun that was lost in the riot, they vow revenge and head toward Paris, planning to kill a policeman if their friend dies.

The film covers less than 24 hours, with title cards noting the passage of time, and striking, black-and-white, documentary-style camerawork creating a feeling of authenticity. There's also overlapping dialogue, jump cutting, and a mix of professional actors and non-actors on screen. The result is that La Haine achieves a feeling of hyper-reality as it unravels the genesis of the hatred it depicts.

Its 28-year-old writer-director, Mathieu Kassovitz, was inspired by a 1993 incident in which a Zairian youth named Makomé was fatally shot while in French police custody. "When Makomé died in Paris," Kassovitz said, "the victim of police brutality, I asked myself, 'How does one get into this vicious cycle of hatred where the young insult the cops who insult the young?' You can be sure that there's a bad ending each time. But since it's the cops who are armed, they're the ones liable to push things too far.

"I wanted to make a provocative film [that] is definitely a statement against the cops. I clearly wanted people to see it that way, even if I show some good guys among the cops and some dirty bastards among the youth."

Kassovitz shot his film on location in a housing project twenty miles outside Paris. "Our ghettos are very interesting places," he said, "where races and cultures mix and are a source of life. La Haine is not just a film about brutality, it's a major lesson in friendship." Of his shooting style, he added: "To me the only way to remind the audience that they are not watching a comedy or a sentimental drama is to make a movie in black and white. It feels more real."

La Haine premiered at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, where Kassovitz won the Best Director award. He also snared an American distribution deal thanks to an unlikely source: Jodie Foster. The actress/director/producer was simply floored by the film: "I left my seat thinking here is a young filmmaker who finally has the maturity and depth to deal with urban unrest without losing his soul. Mathieu Kassovitz talks about 'hate' with love and humanity, something I haven't seen in the myriad of American urban genre films."

In 1996, La Haine won French Cesar Awards for Best Picture, Best Producer and Best Editing. In February that same year, Foster's company Egg Pictures, in conjunction with distributor Gramercy, released it in the United States. Variety called it "extremely intelligent," and The New York Times declared, "The eeriest part of Mr. Kassovitz's precise and troubling film is how easily it reflects our own societal problems."

Kassovitz himself echoed that assessment in 2004, when he was publicizing the film's tenth anniversary release. He said the film traveled well because it illustrated "a worldwide problem. Youth from every country could recognize themselves in the three characters. It did well in England, of course. Maybe it also made an impression abroad because people hadn't seen that side of French life before."

By Jeremy Arnold
La Haine -

La Haine -

La Haine, or Hate, caused a sensation when it was released in France in 1995 for its gritty, vivid and shocking snapshot of life in the "banlieue," or the suburban Parisian housing projects full of low-income immigrants. In the film, three young men, of Jewish, Arab, and black African descent, seethe with anger against the police and the establishment for the beating that left their friend in a coma and triggered a riot. When they find a policeman's gun that was lost in the riot, they vow revenge and head toward Paris, planning to kill a policeman if their friend dies. The film covers less than 24 hours, with title cards noting the passage of time, and striking, black-and-white, documentary-style camerawork creating a feeling of authenticity. There's also overlapping dialogue, jump cutting, and a mix of professional actors and non-actors on screen. The result is that La Haine achieves a feeling of hyper-reality as it unravels the genesis of the hatred it depicts. Its 28-year-old writer-director, Mathieu Kassovitz, was inspired by a 1993 incident in which a Zairian youth named Makomé was fatally shot while in French police custody. "When Makomé died in Paris," Kassovitz said, "the victim of police brutality, I asked myself, 'How does one get into this vicious cycle of hatred where the young insult the cops who insult the young?' You can be sure that there's a bad ending each time. But since it's the cops who are armed, they're the ones liable to push things too far. "I wanted to make a provocative film [that] is definitely a statement against the cops. I clearly wanted people to see it that way, even if I show some good guys among the cops and some dirty bastards among the youth." Kassovitz shot his film on location in a housing project twenty miles outside Paris. "Our ghettos are very interesting places," he said, "where races and cultures mix and are a source of life. La Haine is not just a film about brutality, it's a major lesson in friendship." Of his shooting style, he added: "To me the only way to remind the audience that they are not watching a comedy or a sentimental drama is to make a movie in black and white. It feels more real." La Haine premiered at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, where Kassovitz won the Best Director award. He also snared an American distribution deal thanks to an unlikely source: Jodie Foster. The actress/director/producer was simply floored by the film: "I left my seat thinking here is a young filmmaker who finally has the maturity and depth to deal with urban unrest without losing his soul. Mathieu Kassovitz talks about 'hate' with love and humanity, something I haven't seen in the myriad of American urban genre films." In 1996, La Haine won French Cesar Awards for Best Picture, Best Producer and Best Editing. In February that same year, Foster's company Egg Pictures, in conjunction with distributor Gramercy, released it in the United States. Variety called it "extremely intelligent," and The New York Times declared, "The eeriest part of Mr. Kassovitz's precise and troubling film is how easily it reflects our own societal problems." Kassovitz himself echoed that assessment in 2004, when he was publicizing the film's tenth anniversary release. He said the film traveled well because it illustrated "a worldwide problem. Youth from every country could recognize themselves in the three characters. It did well in England, of course. Maybe it also made an impression abroad because people hadn't seen that side of French life before." By Jeremy Arnold

La Haine - LA HAINE - A Still Timely French Film From Director Mathieu Kassovitz on DVD


Guns are hard to come by in France. So when three youths from the projects outside of Paris find a gun, it's a big deal. It's even bigger when you consider the gun was dropped by one of the cops sent into the banlieu ("barrio") to quell a riot that started as a peaceful demonstration against police brutality.

Fresh on DVD from the Criterion Collection, La Haine (Hate) takes place over the course of a day. The lives of Vinz, Saïd, and Hubert (Vincent Cassel, Saïd Taghmaoui, and Hubert Koundé), are as boring and aimless as they always are, but gnawing at them from inside is the spark of violence.

The riots left them even angrier than they usually are. Hubert is a boxer and his gym was burned down. Other people lost their cars. Still another friend was seriously injured by the police, and if he dies in custody, Vinz says he'll use the gun he found to shoot a cop in revenge.

There isn't much of a story arc to La Haine; it's more a slice of life. It's no secret that this is a deliberate choice by director Mathieu Kassovitz. In one scene, the three friends sit on what might have once been a playground, listening to an even younger kid talk about what was on TV the other night. When the kid finishes, after two minutes of screen time, the three friends ask for the punch line, the point to his story. But there is no point to the kid's story, and that itself is the point to Kassovitz' movie. Life in the projects offers no opportunity and no direction for young men after high school.

The pointlessness of the lives of the characters could make for a boring movie. Indeed, if you have no patience for character studies and slice-of-life films, La Haine is not for you. But it has a lot going for it besides the plot. In addition to the excellent acting and inspired cinematography, its release was a groundbreaking moment in French film history.

To fully appreciate La Haine, you probably had to be living in France in 1995. Cinema was personal, perhaps "safe," and very French. If you wanted gritty, real portraits of urban life, you turned to American films by Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese. A few people may had heard of problems in the banlieu, but it never confronted one at the movies.

Then along comes La Haine, presented in stark (but gorgeous) black and white, featuring gritty, real footage from the projects, with three electric young actors, speaking in a distinctly urban dialect. (The realism was hard-earned; Kassovitz and his three leads lived for six months in the banlieu before filming there so that they could learn the lingo and earn the trust of those who lived there.)

In 1995, you would have never seen anything like it before, at least not from a French filmmaker.

Twelve years later, La Haine lives on in the French psyche. Most recently, it seems prescient of the 2005 riots that took place outside of Paris. In truth, there have been many problems between police and banlieu dwellers in France, for decades. La Haine could have been made any time after about 1980 and it still would have the same resonance today. But it was Kassovitz in 1995 who broke that ground and brought a more American sensibility to French cinema.

Kassovitz had made one feature film before this one and has made many since then (his latest is Gothika, 2003). He has also acted, and he may be most recognizable to American audiences as the young man who became the ideal match for Audrey Tautou in Amelie. He acknowledges in the DVD booklet that because of the success of La Haine, he's been able to make a lot of films that might never have been funded otherwise. And although he's done a lot of work since then, he is still chiefly recognized as the director of La Haine.

It is that matter-of-fact attitude that permeates the audio commentary Kassovitz recorded for Criterion. Ego is refreshingly absent. Kassovitz does praise La Haine, but it doesn't come across as insincere flattery. It seems to be both pride and resignation that this decade-old film is his masterpiece. He doesn't sound like he has to sell the movie to the DVD audience. Kassovitz also comes across as very intelligent and engaged in the world around him. He rarely seems distracted by what's on screen, and he usually has something interesting, often even current (as of spring 2007), to contribute, rather than simply recalling who was sick during that day's shoot, or what the weather was like.

The best of the extra features on the two-DVD set, surprisingly, is the one that has the least to do with the film itself. Featuring three sociologists, Social Dynamite is a fascinating history of housing projects. The three talking heads discuss not only the housing projects in France, but also Chicago and elsewhere in the world. High-rise housing projects were a good idea at one point. They provided affordable living in an otherwise expensive city (in Chicago and New York it may have been in the heart of the city; in Paris it was the outskirts). The density of the housing was supposed to be offset by parks, playgrounds, cafes, and entertainments. But once the housing was in place, the followup economic investment never came, and so the projects became places of isolation, boredom, and little opportunity. Instead of communities and neighborhoods, they became islands of exile for the poor and unwanted. These places were doomed to a downward spiral of poverty and isolation. It doesn't take a Mathieu Kassovitz to realize that this is a formula for resentment and hate.

But for all of the extra features on the Criterion DVD -- there is a 16-page booklet, interviews with the cast and crew, an introduction by Jodie Foster (she helped distribute the film in the U.S.) -- they all seem to repeat the same two themes: La Haine is a groundbreaking portrait of life in the banlieu for the young disaffected males; and it features technically excellent black-and-white cinematography. This Criterion release is a great excuse to watch La Haine again.

For more information about La Haine, visit The Criterion Collection To order La Haine, go to TCM Shopping.

by Marty Mapes

La Haine - LA HAINE - A Still Timely French Film From Director Mathieu Kassovitz on DVD

Guns are hard to come by in France. So when three youths from the projects outside of Paris find a gun, it's a big deal. It's even bigger when you consider the gun was dropped by one of the cops sent into the banlieu ("barrio") to quell a riot that started as a peaceful demonstration against police brutality. Fresh on DVD from the Criterion Collection, La Haine (Hate) takes place over the course of a day. The lives of Vinz, Saïd, and Hubert (Vincent Cassel, Saïd Taghmaoui, and Hubert Koundé), are as boring and aimless as they always are, but gnawing at them from inside is the spark of violence. The riots left them even angrier than they usually are. Hubert is a boxer and his gym was burned down. Other people lost their cars. Still another friend was seriously injured by the police, and if he dies in custody, Vinz says he'll use the gun he found to shoot a cop in revenge. There isn't much of a story arc to La Haine; it's more a slice of life. It's no secret that this is a deliberate choice by director Mathieu Kassovitz. In one scene, the three friends sit on what might have once been a playground, listening to an even younger kid talk about what was on TV the other night. When the kid finishes, after two minutes of screen time, the three friends ask for the punch line, the point to his story. But there is no point to the kid's story, and that itself is the point to Kassovitz' movie. Life in the projects offers no opportunity and no direction for young men after high school. The pointlessness of the lives of the characters could make for a boring movie. Indeed, if you have no patience for character studies and slice-of-life films, La Haine is not for you. But it has a lot going for it besides the plot. In addition to the excellent acting and inspired cinematography, its release was a groundbreaking moment in French film history. To fully appreciate La Haine, you probably had to be living in France in 1995. Cinema was personal, perhaps "safe," and very French. If you wanted gritty, real portraits of urban life, you turned to American films by Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese. A few people may had heard of problems in the banlieu, but it never confronted one at the movies. Then along comes La Haine, presented in stark (but gorgeous) black and white, featuring gritty, real footage from the projects, with three electric young actors, speaking in a distinctly urban dialect. (The realism was hard-earned; Kassovitz and his three leads lived for six months in the banlieu before filming there so that they could learn the lingo and earn the trust of those who lived there.) In 1995, you would have never seen anything like it before, at least not from a French filmmaker. Twelve years later, La Haine lives on in the French psyche. Most recently, it seems prescient of the 2005 riots that took place outside of Paris. In truth, there have been many problems between police and banlieu dwellers in France, for decades. La Haine could have been made any time after about 1980 and it still would have the same resonance today. But it was Kassovitz in 1995 who broke that ground and brought a more American sensibility to French cinema. Kassovitz had made one feature film before this one and has made many since then (his latest is Gothika, 2003). He has also acted, and he may be most recognizable to American audiences as the young man who became the ideal match for Audrey Tautou in Amelie. He acknowledges in the DVD booklet that because of the success of La Haine, he's been able to make a lot of films that might never have been funded otherwise. And although he's done a lot of work since then, he is still chiefly recognized as the director of La Haine. It is that matter-of-fact attitude that permeates the audio commentary Kassovitz recorded for Criterion. Ego is refreshingly absent. Kassovitz does praise La Haine, but it doesn't come across as insincere flattery. It seems to be both pride and resignation that this decade-old film is his masterpiece. He doesn't sound like he has to sell the movie to the DVD audience. Kassovitz also comes across as very intelligent and engaged in the world around him. He rarely seems distracted by what's on screen, and he usually has something interesting, often even current (as of spring 2007), to contribute, rather than simply recalling who was sick during that day's shoot, or what the weather was like. The best of the extra features on the two-DVD set, surprisingly, is the one that has the least to do with the film itself. Featuring three sociologists, Social Dynamite is a fascinating history of housing projects. The three talking heads discuss not only the housing projects in France, but also Chicago and elsewhere in the world. High-rise housing projects were a good idea at one point. They provided affordable living in an otherwise expensive city (in Chicago and New York it may have been in the heart of the city; in Paris it was the outskirts). The density of the housing was supposed to be offset by parks, playgrounds, cafes, and entertainments. But once the housing was in place, the followup economic investment never came, and so the projects became places of isolation, boredom, and little opportunity. Instead of communities and neighborhoods, they became islands of exile for the poor and unwanted. These places were doomed to a downward spiral of poverty and isolation. It doesn't take a Mathieu Kassovitz to realize that this is a formula for resentment and hate. But for all of the extra features on the Criterion DVD -- there is a 16-page booklet, interviews with the cast and crew, an introduction by Jodie Foster (she helped distribute the film in the U.S.) -- they all seem to repeat the same two themes: La Haine is a groundbreaking portrait of life in the banlieu for the young disaffected males; and it features technically excellent black-and-white cinematography. This Criterion release is a great excuse to watch La Haine again. For more information about La Haine, visit The Criterion Collection To order La Haine, go to TCM Shopping. by Marty Mapes

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Winner of the 1995 Cesar Award for Best Picture. Film was also nominated for nine other Cesars, including Best Director.

Winner of the 1995 Felix Award for Young European Film of the Year from the European Film Academy.

Winner of the Best Director Award at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival.

Released in United States Winter February 9, 1996

Released in United States March 8, 1996

Released in United States April 19, 1996

Released in United States on Video June 30, 1996

Released in United States 1995

Released in United States November 1995

Released in United States September 1996

Shown at Montreal World Film Festival (Hors Concours) August 24 - September 4, 1995.

Shown at New York Film Festival September 29 - October 15, 1995.

Shown at London Film Festival November 2-19, 1995.

Second full-length film for Matthieu Kassovitz who marked his feature directorial debut with "Cafe au Lait" (France/1993).

Began shooting September 16, 1994.

Completed shooting mid-November 1994.

Expanded release in Canada September 8, 1995.

Released in United States March 8, 1996 (Los Angeles)

Released in United States April 19, 1996 (Chicago)

Released in United States on Video June 30, 1996

Released in United States 1995 (Shown at Montreal World Film Festival (Hors Concours) August 24 - September 4, 1995.)

Released in United States 1995 (Shown at New York Film Festival September 29 - October 15, 1995.)

Released in United States November 1995 (Shown at London Film Festival November 2-19, 1995.)

Released in United States September 1996 (Shown in New York City (Anthology Film Archives) as part of program "Best of the Indies" September 5-15, 1996.)

Released in United States Winter February 9, 1996