On the outskirts of Paris, a brutal riot has left the projects in an even more ravaged state. La haine (1995) is set during the course of one day in the aftermath of that riot.
At the core are three multiethnic friends: Vinz (Vincent Cassel), a hotheaded Jew with cop-killing fantasies; Hubert (Hubert Koundé), an African boxer who wishes himself a better existence; and Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui), an Arab who is something of a balance. A friend of theirs, Abdel, was left hospitalized in the melee. Later in the film, Vinz finds a lost gun and promises revenge on a random cop if Abdel dies. So much chaos relies on such a quick action.
Violence, as it goes, begets more violence, all of it senseless. La haine breeds la haine. In other words, hate breeds hate. Yet, we’re supposed to side with Vinz, Hubert and Saïd, who serve as representations of that generation during that time. Though fully developed and emblems of the time (through language, music, style, attitude), how are we really expected to take their side when they, who steal, harass and wield disdain, are just as guilty of the violence and hatred?
La haine was inspired by the 1993 unjust killing of Makome M’Bowole, murdered by police while in custody. Mathieu Kassovitz calls this incident to mind in a shocking scene that shows two officers arresting and abusing Hubert and Saïd. What do the police expect to happen in return? There’s the valid argument that La haine is anti-law enforcement. Director Kassovitz, like the trio at the forefront, feels there is a strong right to be. La haine isn’t necessarily pro-violence as a result, but it dangerously skirts around the idea and fails to set its priorities in order. In one of the most telling scenes, the trio walk past an advertisement that reads, “The World is Yours.” Saïd falls behind his friends and defaces the sign to read, “The World is Ours.”
So where does that leave the world to land?
Jodie Foster Introduction (14:52): In this video introduction, Foster praises La haine, which she helped bring to American audiences.
Ten Years of “La haine” (1:23:30): This feature-length documentary offers a comprehensive look at the making of La haine, covering the inspirations, shooting in black and white, playing at Cannes, winning at the César Awards, and more. Interviewees include Kassovitz, actors Vincent Cassel and Hubert Koundé, and producers Christophe Rossignon and Alain Rocca.
Social Dynamite (34:02): La haine’s setting--the banlieue outside of Paris--is put under the microscope by social scientists William Kornblum, Sophie Body-Gendrot and Jeff Fagan.
Preparing for the Shoot (5:57): Footage shows the cast and crews’ initial experiences in the projects used for the film.
The Making of a Scene (6:38): Kassovitz plans and directs the scene where Vinz fantasizes about killing a police officer.
Deleted and Extended Scenes: There are four deleted scenes (“Rooftop Party,” “Rooftop Afterword,” “Homeless Man,” “Homeless Man Afterword”) and four extended scenes (“OCB,” “OCB Afterword,” “Eiffel Tower,” “Eiffel Tower Afterword”).
Also included with this Criterion Collection Blu-ray is a 20-page booklet featuring two pieces: “Arts, Politics, and The Banlieue” by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau” and an appreciation by filmmaker Costa-Gavras.