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The story, unfolding over a 24-hour period, centers on Vinz, Said and Hubert--very close friends from very different backgrounds. Vinz is 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 story as always, 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.
For more about La Haine and the La Haine Blu-ray release, see the La Haine Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on April 15, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Starring: Vincent Cassel, Hubert Kounde, Saïd Taghmaoui, Abdel Ahmed Ghili, Benoit Magimel, Vincent Lindon
Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
» See full cast & crew
La Haine Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, April 15, 2012
Winner of Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival, Mathieu Kassovitz's "La Haine" a.k.a "Hate" (1995) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include original trailers; introduction to the film by by actress and filmmaker Jodie Foster; deleted and extended scenes; stills gallery; video conversation with sociologists sociologists Sophie Body-Gendrot, William Kornblum, and Jeffrey Fagan; documentary film produced by Studio Canal; audio commentary by director Mathieu Kassovitz; and more. The disc also arrives with an illustrated booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau and an appreciation by acclaimed filmmaker Costa-Gavras. In French, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
An Arab boy is brutally beaten by the French police immediately after a massive riot on the outskirts of Paris. He is then taken into intensive care where his condition is evaluated as critical. Outside, on the streets of the banlieues, the boy's friends begin following closely the news reports.
Vinz (Vincent Cassel, L'appartement, Our Day Will Come), a working-class Jewish boy, Said (Said Taghmaoui, Room to Rent), a bitter but indecisive Arab, and Hubert (Hubert Kounde, Café au lait, TV's Braquo), a North African amateur boxer, are shocked. They wander around pondering what would happen if the Arab boy dies. They also meet with other ethnic youngsters who are visibly disturbed by the news reports.
While taking a break, Vinz reveals to his friends a secret - he has found a gun and has decided to use it. Said is impressed. But Hubert is enraged and, after a short discussion with Vinz, walks away. Said remains with Vinz.
A couple of hours later, the three meet again. They head to downtown Paris to visit a former friend who has started dealing (drugs) with the big boys. The meeting isn't much fun and the trio is soon back on the streets, looking for excitement. On the way home, they beat up a group of young skinheads. Eventually, a gut-wrenching act puts an end to their journey.
La Haine is a raw and gritty film appropriately shot in black and white. Archival footage recalling the Parisian riots from the early '90s is also incorporated into the film. The dialog is razor-sharp and colorful, imitating the slang used in many of the poorest banlieues.
With La Haine director Kassovitz delivered an uncompromising critique of a socio-political reality many Frenchmen were unaware of during the early '90s (his film premiered at a time when Jean-Marie Le Pen and his xenophobic National Front gained unprecedented popularity in France). Unsurprisingly, the tidal wave of anger and consequently fear La Haine unleashed in France was unprecedented.
The only other film to hit such a nerve in France after La Haine premiered was Jean-François Richet's violent and slightly more disturbing Ma 6-T va crack-er (1997). However, while its tone was similarly dismissive, its message was disappointingly populist. (The film was essentially an examination of the mechanics of violence rather than a sobering analysis of what leads to it). As a result, Ma 6-T va crack-er (1997) was not as far reaching and climate-shifting as La Haine.
Nowadays, La Haine is regarded by many European critics as a hugely influential film, one that changed the landscape of contemporary French cinema forever. Its unprecedented success at the Cannes Film Festival encouraged a number of young ethnic French directors to follow up the steps of director Kassovitz. As a result, a sea of similarly themed films (La squale, Petits frères) eventually gave birth to the socially aware banlieue genre.
Note: In 1995, La Haine won Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1996, the film won three Cesar Awards, including Best Film and Best Editing (Mathieu Kassovitz, Scott Stevenson).
La Haine Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
It appears that the high-definition transfer for this release was sourced from the same master Studio Canal used for their Blu-ray release in 2008. I compared a number of different sequences and could not see any major discrepancies to address in this review. Criterion's release boasts stronger compression but the basics - detail, clarity, contrast, and color grading - are practically identical.
Generally speaking, detail is far better when compared to Criterion's R1 DVD release of La Haine, especially during the nighttime footage from the second half of the film. Furthermore, there are no visible compression artifacts, blocky patterns, or shimmer. Clarity does fluctuate, with selected sequences also looking marginally softer, but this 'raw' look is indeed intended (obviously, the documentary footage in the beginning of the film also looks soft and blocky). Colors are also stable, though the blacks are never lush and well saturated. This said, I do believe that if a new master is prepared and a new high-definition struck some of the extremely light sharpening that occasionally pops up will be eliminated, but the clarity fluctuations and softness will be retained. La Haine is not a pretty film and a new high-definition transfer will only further expose its 'raw' qualities. To sum it all up, this is a good presentation that should please fans of the film. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
La Haine Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The loseless audio track opens up the film in all the right places - during the police raid, the clash with the skinheads, etc. However, this is certainly not an aggressive track that will test the muscles of your audio system. It adds depth and clarity, but the film's sound design does not favor a wider range of nuanced dynamics or impressive surround effects. On the other hand, the dialog is consistently crisp, clear, stable, and very easy to follow. Also, there are no sync issues or audio dropouts to report in this review.
La Haine Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
La Haine Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine is a powerful social study that changed the landscape of contemporary French cinema forever. In fact, the film inspired an entire generation of young ethnic directors from all across Europe. Previously available on Blu-ray only in Region-B land, the film will now have its North American premiere via the Criterion Collection. As usual, the distributors have also included a wealth of outstanding supplemental features. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
La Haine Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Criterion Blu-ray in May: Kassovitz, Jonze, Kiarostami, Bergman - February 16, 2012
After much speculation, the Criterion Collection has posted its full roster of Blu-ray releases for May 2012. Titles include Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine, Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich, Abbas Kiarostami's Certified Copy, and two features from Ingmar Bergman ...
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