The Tension Of

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The Tension of "La Haine"
March 2, 2010 in 1990s, French cinema, Mathieu Kassovitz
There is a formal struggle in Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine (1995) between unflinching realism and filmic selfconsciousness.
Much has been made of the picture's sociological importance but an awareness of its cultural implications should not cloud
an appreciation of its sophisticated construction.
The film presents a day in the life of three youths in an unidentified Parisian slum. It begins with blackandwhite
documentary footage of real riots and starts, as a result, with a feel of historical authenticity. The cinematographic choice to
shoot in a similar blackandwhite look seems to bind the film proper to the stock footage with which it opens: on the one
hand, the fiction of La Haine is allowed the authority of history. The story begins the day after a riot in which a police
inspector's gun has gone missing: on the other hand, then, history fills in narrative blanks, as the tumult recorded in the stock
footage acts as a surrogate for the fictional riot that we are not allowed to see.
The narrative is full of similar holes, as well as tedious stories, deadends and unfunny jokes: it appears as uneven as life.
Take, for example, when, sat killing time in a park, a young boy tells Vinz (Vincent Cassel) a story about a celebrity who's
been set up for the television show Candid Camera. The tale crescendos as the celebrity tries "to act cool" but, as he gets
more uneasy, inevitably "starts ranting at [a] guy". Finally, the story climaxes only in a bathetic petering out: "They start
fighting and the Candid Camera guys have to break it up." "Then what?" "That's all." "Who was the celebrity?" "Dunno, but
he was real famous. I don't remember." Later, Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui) ruins a potentially funny joke by overtelling it. He
begins, "Heard the one about the nun?" He recounts how a drunken man, leaving a bar, comes across a nun in a long black
cape. He starts beating her up and, after about five minutes, finally says "You're not so tough, Batman!" The comedy is
defused when Saïd exclaims, after a brief pause, "He thought the nun was Batman!" Vinz rounds off the deadening by saying,
"I heard it was a rabbi."
The film ends with what feels like a true to life stroke, when it is Vinz and not a policeman that is shot. Throughout the film
we are allowed to see Vinz enacting (in his head) the desire to shoot a "pig". His fantasy is to avenge the death of his friend
Abdel Ichaha who dies at the hands of police brutality. He shouts at Hubert (Hubert Koundé) that he's learnt from the
streets: "Turn the other cheek: you're a dead motherfucker!" When, though, he is handed a skinhead to kill (one apparently
worthy of death, as Hubert antagonises him, screaming, "There are good cops. But the only good skinhead is a dead
skinhead!"), he finds he cannot. He knows he's not a gangster. Neither does he die a glamorous death: he is shot only because
a gun goes off by accident. It is a realistically unflattering end to a head that was filled with fantasies.
But his blood runs on the pavement black not red. While the blackandwhite cinematography may appear to lend a sense of
authenticity to the picture, it instead creates a distance between the film and reallife and places it in the realm of
selfconscious cinema. There are references to colour throughout the picture that jolt the viewer and make her aware of its
absence. Vinz, talking about the riots of the previous night, says, "It was war against the pigs, in living colour!" If colour is a
sign of life, then the decision to shoot La Haine in blackandwhite separates it from reality. In a shop, buying peppers for
his grandma, Vinz does not have enough money for the green ones, only the red, which she hates. As the viewer sees Vinz
and the shopkeeper argue over the peppers, all uniformly grey, she begins to feel that, if everything were in colour, if there
was some hope, everything would be fine. The world of La Haine becomes painfully black and white the absence of colour is
felt.
There are also references to filmic conventions and tropes that feel specifically placed in the mouths of the characters to
emphasise their roles as created puppets. Saïd asks one man, "What's with the hair net? [...] You a movie star?" High and
stuck in Paris over night, he claims, "I'll switch off the Eiffel Tower", before being told by the rest of the trio, "That only
works in movies." As Vinz tries to express his anger at the police, he mimics Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) from Martin
Scorsese'sTaxi Driver (1976), turning the originally cool psychopathy into a grotesquely distorted face:
These references feel metatextual only at the level of the scriptwriter (also Kassovitz): they serve to remind the viewer that
La Haine is a film, not a documentary, and the characters are not allowed to know. As the trio turn away from the Eiffel
Tower and leave frame left, the shot lingers for a second, empty. Suddenly, the Tower begins to turn off but Vinz, Saïd and
Hubert are not there to see it.

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Kassovitz creates a dreamlike world in which normal social and physical rules do not apply, in which the Eiffel Tower will
turn off at a command. Hubert's boxing gym has been trashed and left in pieces early in the film there's even a car that's
been deserted inside. Throughout the picture, Saïd wonders, "How'd the car get in here? The doorway's not big enough." His
questions go unnoticed by the others but they niggle the viewer because they remain unanswered.…read more

Page 3

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Said doesnt have the same rights as other friends due to his Arabic origin.
Vinz copies De Niro's character in 'Taxi Driver', shows he only believes what he is being shown, not had
opportunity to explore anything else. common way of how poverty has an effect.
the conflict is between the gangs and the police e.g. on the roof.
good cop tries to prevent conflict by trying to help Hubert get his gym back.…read more

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Banlieue
Banlieue of ClichysousBois France
In francophone areas,[1] banlieues (French pronunciation: [bljø]) are the "outskirts" of a city: the zone around a city that is
under the city's rule.
Banlieues are translated as "suburbs", as these are also residential areas on the outer edge of a city, but the connotations of
the term "banlieue" in France can be different from those in Englishspeaking countries.…read more

Page 5

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Massy, Les Ulis, divided by residential zones with a better reputation (VerrièresleBuisson, BourglaReine, Antony,
FontenayauxRoses, Sceaux).
The farther away from the Paris city centre, the more the banlieues of the South of Paris can be divided into two zones. On
one side, there are the banks of the River Seine where in the past, workingclass residents lived -- still today, there are
pockets of disadvantaged areas -- but also other areas that are especially welloff.…read more

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France, Kassovitz offers a fearless if unreservedly
pessimistic attack on the frontlines of power.
During a riot in the outskirts of Paris, police beat an Arab teenager (Abdel Ahmed Ghili) into a coma, fuelling a fire of hatred
inside Vinz (Vincent Cassel) a Jew who swears to "whack" a cop if the boy dies.…read more

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Tackling the issues of class, gun crime, and most of all tensions between the predominantly white police force and the
immigrant population in the suburbs, La Haine is a raw, explosive film. Whilst the director's anger at the situation is obvious,
he doesn't let the film turn into a simple good kids vs evil police story. Both sides are portrayed as brash and provocative,
and Vinz in particular is deluded, violent and at times a total idiot.…read more

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The film, La Haine, opens with the narrator telling a joke about a guy who is falling from a tall building and repeats to
himself, "So far so good, so far so good" as he passes each floor. The joke is about the volatile state of France's suburban
housing projects at the time. The metaphor refers to France's unwillingness to see the problems of its suburban ghettos.…read more

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The shot when we are introduced to the gun is a fast forward zoom in on the three, and pans around
them with the gun lit brightly in the center. Before this point, they had felt they had no purpose in life, but now Vinz sees
his opportunity to avenge the attack on the Arab.
The effect that Kassovitz created with the black and white was to make the film appear more artistic and therefore taken
more seriously.…read more

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Hubert and Vinz, the two characters who in their own and different ways are
trying to enact change.
Hubert's conflict with Vinz portrays two juxtaposing views. vinz is the angry young man who, unlike Hubert And
Said,participates in the riots and hates the police. He has no respect for adults or authority figures he encounters, aside from
his Granma. We can gain insights into the psyche of young people from Vinz.…read more

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