Thursday, June 24, 2010

La Haine (1995)

This movie is so fantastic, so intense, so stressful, and so badass, that I had to take my dog Mo for a walk just to shake loose.

Anyone reading this blog probably knows that I have been going through the AFI 100 years, 100 movies list, and that those postings have moved to Scene Stealers. Well I just watched "Do the Right Thing" (1989) and I wanted to watch something off the list that I could write about over here. I remembered my friend Kevin was talking about this French movie that took its inspiration from Spike Lee's most renowned joint.

The film is "La Haine" or "Hate" for you Francophobes, and it follows three youth, Vinz, Hubert and Said, the day after their friend, Abdel, was shot in nearby riots. The entire film takes place over the course of one day and looks at the tensions between the police and the various ethnic groups that make up the Parisian ghetto.

The entire film works as a parable. We have three characters, each with their own drives and responses to what has happened, and they are offered to the viewer as the three paths to choose from. We then watch as Hubert, Vinz, and Said all move within their world each representing a different philosophy. There are parables within the story as well. One of my favorites comes when our three main characters are hiding from the cops in a restroom. Be warned. The language is salty.

Now I realize that from this one scene this film could appear to be a light hearted comedy of errors. I assure you this is not the case. It is intense and masterfully constructed. Even the digressions are well placed, meaningful and beautifully crafted. Here are two trailers for another small taste.

The film's pacing is a free fall and the entire time you are just waiting for the characters to slam headlong into the approaching ground. In spite of that tension, the movie is exceedingly enjoyable and the characters are easy to sympathize with.

Give it a try, but just in case you need it when you're done with "La Haine" here is a picture of Mo. Feel free to print it out and take it for a walk.


  1. Hi,
    I've never commented before so here goes... I'm studying "La Haine" in French for A2 this year and we have to research any underlying messages that the film is trying to portray.
    You mentioned the parables in the film... I was wondering if you could possibly expand on that point? It would be a great help :)

  2. Sorry, I didn't see this comment right away. The story is a parable, which is to say that it is a story intended to teach us something.

    Think of the three little pigs. Each of them makes a different choice, and each of those choices has a different result. So in the face of the strong winded big bad wolf, we should choose to make our house out of brick.

    In the case of La Haine, we have Hubert, Vinz, and Said. Each of them are stuck in a similar circumstance, each of these characters have different levels of aggression, anger, and tension towards other around them. So we the story tells us something about the consequences of their varied behavior. Even if the characters are "correct" in their actions they may suffer dire consequences for their behavior.

    As far as the scene that I show in the restroom, it illustrates the difficulty that the main characters face. They can either reach out their hand, or pull up their pants. If they reach out their hand, their pants fall and they can't run. If the pull up their pants, they can run, but can't grab ahold of their means of escape. They are stuck running or reaching, but destined to face the same outcome.

    Hope this helps.

  3. Thanks so much :)
    Great help :)