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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • French DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • English-language audio commentary by Kassovitz
  • Video introduction by Jodie Foster
  • Ten Years of "La haine," a new documentary that brings together key cast and crew a decade after the film's landmark release
  • New video featurette on the film's banlieue setting, including interviews with sociologists Sophie Body-Gendrot, Jeffrey Fagan, and William Kornblum
  • Behind-the-scenes footage shot during the film's production
  • Deleted and extended scenes, each featuring a new video afterword by Kassovitz
  • Stills gallery of behind-the-scenes photos
  • Theatrical trailers

La Haine

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Mathieu Kassovitz
Starring: Vincent Cassel, ,
1995 | 97 Minutes | Licensor: Le Pacte

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #381
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: May 8, 2012
Review Date: June 3, 2012

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SYNOPSIS

Mathieu Kassovitz took the film world by storm with La haine, a gritty, unsettling, and visually explosive look at the racial and cultural volatility in modern-day France, specifically the low-income banlieue districts on Paris's outskirts. Aimlessly passing their days in the concrete environs of their dead-end suburbia, Vinz (Vincent Cassel), Hubert (Hubert Koundť), and SaÔd (SaÔd Taghmaoui)-a Jew, an African, and an Arab-give human faces to France's immigrant populations, their bristling resentment at their marginalization slowly simmering until it reaches a climactic boiling point. A work of tough beauty, La haine is a landmark of contemporary French cinema and a gripping reflection of its country's ongoing identity crisis.

Forum members rate this film 8/10

 

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Criterion upgrades their DVD edition of Mathieu Kassovitzís La haine to Blu-ray, presenting the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on a dual-layer disc. The transfer is presented in 1080p/24hz.

Iím pretty sure this is the same high-definition transfer that was the basis for the DVD, supervised by Kassovitz. The DVD looked fine and this Blu-ray offers a nice little upgrade over it but I canít say itís substantial. The film was originally shot in colour and then processed during development to create the black and white/monochrome finished product, and itís possible that any limitation the image has is related to this. Generally speaking the transfer is more than pleasing, delivering a fairly if not overly sharp and crisp image. There are moments of softness here and there but I suspect itís an issue with the source and not necessarily a problem with the digital transfer. Likewise some minor halos, and what appears to be slight edge-enhancement, could also be inherent in the source because of the manipulation, but it can be hard to say for sure.

Past all this the transfer still manages to deliver some strong black levels, and grain is present, though Iíve seen film grain rendered better. I could detect some noise in places but itís not overly distracting. The source has some minor blemishes but is incredibly clean otherwise.

In all it doesnít offer a substantial improvement over the DVD since the DVD was already pretty good to begin with, but it does still look very good on the format.

7/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The Blu-ray presents a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track that sounds to have the same mix as the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track on the DVD but does actually sound a bit sharper and clearer in its presentation. The film offers a rather surprising and robust experience, making ample use of the surround channels, whether it be the sounds of people in the streets, objects whizzing by, traffic, trains, and many other sound effects, all of which sound to move naturally between the speakers. Dialogue is clear and articulate and sound quality is exceptional with no damage or noise presents. Itís one weakness is that the lower channel isnít used as effectively as it could have been but otherwise itís a nice upgrade over the DVDís audio.

The filmís original 2.0 track, which was included on the DVD, is not found here.

(Also of note is that the filmís subtitles have been corrected for this edition: The DVD changed many names in the film to make it easier for American audiences to better understand the context of a conversation. For example they replaced the name ďAsterixĒ with the name ďSnoopyĒ. The subtitles now refer to ďAsterixĒ.)

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

It looks as though everything has made it over from Criterionís impressive 2-disc DVD to this Blu-ray, starting with an audio commentary (in English) by Kassovitz, recorded exclusively for Criterion for that 2007 release. Kassovitz sounds a bit laid back but manages to keep the track engaging as he talks primarily about the production, particularly the origin of it, the casting, the shoot, influences on his style, and the reception of the film. Itís a fine track but ultimately most of this material is covered throughout the rest of the supplements in the set, so whether one wishes to listen to it is completely up to them. But again itís an engaging enough director track.

Jodie Foster next offers a 15-minute introduction to the film. Foster played a big role in getting Kassovitzís film released in the U.S. and here she talks about what drew her to his style and this film, and even points out her favourite moments. Itís not the most in-depth interview but it offers a look at the directorís style and his influences (though I guess that aspect should be obvious to most.)

Criterion next includes an 83-minute documentary originally made by Studio Canal entitled Ten Years of ďLa haineĒ. Here we get interviews with many of the participants in the production of the film, including, but not limited to, Kassovitz and actors Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundť, and SaÔd Taghmaoui. The documentary begins by looking at the death of a young Zairian man, who was killed by police during an interrogation. From here Kassovitz decided to make a social conscious film that could also work as an entertainment, similar to the American films he grew up on (his style suggests Spike Lee is a major influence.) From here the documentary gets into details about the financing, the decision to do the film in black and whiteóthough through an unorthodox processómoving in with the locals to gain their trust, and how some of the more complex shots in the film were done, including a helicopter sequence. Kassovitz talks about the difficulties in editing, specifically the fact that he didnít have many options because of how he shot the film. From here it gets into screenings, its premiere and the various awards it won. In all itís a pretty standard making-of documentary, never offering anything all that surprising, but itís still an engaging and entertaining piece.

Social Dynamite is an exclusive piece made for the Criterion DVD. Running 34-minutes it features sociologists Sophie Body-Gendrot, William Hornblum, and Jeffrey Fagan, who all talk about the filmís banlieue setting. They go over the history of public housing France, comparing it to similar projects in the States, and the sociological effect it can have on those born and raised there. It also touches on the economic issues that arose throughout the years as well as the political climate that lead to the unrest that was and still is occurring. Itís actually a rather thoughtful inclusion on Criterionís part, offering some context to the film for those unfamiliar with the filmís location and the political and sociological climate.

Preparing for the Shoot is a 6-minute video journal covering the cast and crewís stay in the public housing area where they filmed, followed by another 6-minute featurette entitled The Making of a Scene. In the latter piece we see behind-the-scenes footage around the scene where Casselís character fantasizes about shooting an officer and also get an extended interview with Kassovitz about the filmís themes of hatred on both sides.

Criterion next includes a collection of Deleted and Extended Scenes. We first get two deleted scenes, running under 2-minutes total, one involving what I think is an alternate scene to the police confrontation on the roof, and the other involving Casselís character trying to figure out if a homeless man is dead or not. The two extended scenes, running about 5-minutes, present a slightly longer sequence involving a conversation between Hubert and Vincent, and then what appears to possibly be the raw footage around the Eifel Tower sequence. All of this is also accompanied by an ďafterwordĒ featuring Kassovitz talking about the sequences and why they didnít make it as is into the film, even sharing an anecdote or two.

The disc then closes with a small photo gallery featuring about 14 photos with title cards. These are actually presented in high-definition. We also get two theatrical trailers.

As far as I can see the booklet has the same material that appeared in the DVDís booklet starting with a decent essay on the film by Ginette Vincendeau followed by a short note by Costa-Gavras on the filmís sociological aspects.

And that covers it. It does add some contextual material but itís mostly about the making of the film. Still, the supplements are all engaging and worth moving oneís way through.

8/10

CLOSING

The video upgrade isnít as substantial as I would have hoped but itís still a fine looking transfer, and the supplements still hold up rather well. Worthwhile for those that havenít yet picked up the previous Criterion DVD or any other edition of the film.


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