Blu-ray Review: La Haine



Paris, the City of Lights. The most romantic place in the world. When you visit the French capital you mostly see the dream. Travel out of the city into some of the more dubious suburbs and you’re in for a shock. The poorest Banlieues are sometimes little better than ghettos, their residents often face segregation, discrimination and racism.; not least from the police. In 1993, a young immigrant was shot by an officer at point blank range. Using this even and his own experiences as inspiration, Mathieu Kassovitz wrote and directed La Haine.

Vinz (Vincent Cassel) is a man on the edge. After the police shooting of Abdel and the subsequent riots, he’s looking for revenge. Hubert, a boxer and small-time drug dealer just dreams of a way out (Hubert Koundé). Whilst Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui) often finds himself stuck in the middle, trying to keep the peace. As these three immigrants go through the motions of their daily lives, a chance discovery starts a chain of events which will change them forever.

The new 4k restoration of La Haine brings events into stark focus without losing that authentic and fatalistic certainty. It’s a sad indictment of today’s society that it doesn’t quite carry the same punch as it did on release, but the craft and guile on show is still breathtaking. The problem has not gone away. If anything, it’s arguably much worse now. Its anniversary comes at a largely inauspicious time for race politics, with Paris playing host to further riots earlier this year. La Haine still remains one of the most important films of post-war French cinema.

Extras:

  • New 4k restoration supervised by director of photography Pierre Aïm
  • Audio commentary by Mathieu Kassovitz (2004)
  • Redefining Rebellion (2020, 5 mins): Film critic and programmer Kaleem Aftab explores the spirit of revolution in La Haine
  • Screen Epiphany: Riz Ahmed introduces La Haine (2020, 14 mins): the award-winning actor talks about his connection to Mathieu Kassovitz’s La Haine
  • Interview with Mathieu Kassovitz (2020, 35 mins): a new interview with the actor, writer and director
  • Fierrot le pou (1990, 7 mins): a young man shoots hoops (or tries) in a gym, in an effort to impress a young woman
  • Cauchemar blanc (1991, 10 mins): a group of guys cruise the streets looking for someone to rob
  • Assassins (1992, 12 mins): Mathieu Kassovitz’s short film which he would later develop into the feature Assassin(s) in 1997
  • 10 Years of La Haine (2005, 84 mins): feature length documentary marking the 10th anniversary of Mathieu Kassovitz’s award-winning film
  • Casting and rehearsals (1995, 19 mins)
  • Anatomy of a Scene (1995, 7 mins): a look at the shooting of a particularly challenging scene in the film
  • Behind the scenes (1995, 6 mins): Kassovitz and his cast and crew prepare to embark on making La Haine
  • Colour deleted and extended scenes (1995, 17 mins): including afterwords by Mathieu Kassovitz on selected scenes
  • Original trailers
  • 25th anniversary trailer
  • 80-page book featuring new essays by Ginette Vincendeau and Kaleem Aftab, an interview with Mathieu Kassovitz, archival essays and reviews and more
  • Limited edition of 5,000 copies

La Haine is released on Blu-ray by the BFI on 23 November.

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