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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • French Dolby Surround
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • New 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


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Mathieu Kassovitz
Starring: Vincent Cassel, ,
1995 | 97 Minutes | Licensor: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

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

Release Date: April 17, 2007
Review Date: June 30, 2012

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SYNOPSIS

When he was just twenty-nine years old, Mathieu Kassovitz took the international film world by storm with La haine (Hate), a gritty, unsettling, and visually explosive look at the racial and cultural volatility in modern-day France, specifically in the low-income banlieue districts on Paris's outskirts. Aimlessly whiling away their days in the concrete environs of their dead-end suburbia, Vinz (Vincent Cassel), Hubert (Hubert Koundé), and Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui)-a Jew, an African, and an Arab-give human faces to France's immigrant populations, their bristling resentment at their social marginalization slowly simmering until they reach 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 7.9/10

 

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PICTURE

The Criterion Collection presents Mathieu Kassovitz’s La haine on DVD presenting the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on the first dual-layer disc of this two-disc set. The image has been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

Up to this point this was the best version I had seen of the film on home video, until Criterion released the film on Blu-ray with a slight but noticeable improvement (I suspect it uses the same transfer found here.) The film was shot in colour and then altered afterwards to look black and white, so I think this has created some of the anomalies I notice here. While fairly sharp if not overly so, it can have a bit of a waxy look. Compression noise is noticeable in places as are edge halos, though it’s hard to say if the latter problem may have more to do with how the film was modified during post-production. Gray levels look nice and blacks look fairly deep, and there are moments where film grain is present and looks pretty good.

Not exceptional but a nice image overall, presenting a stable, clean presentation of the film.

7/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly 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 DVD presents both the film’s original 2.0 surround track (in Dolby Surround) and an upgraded Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track. They both sound fine, delivering rather stunning surround presentations, but the 5.1 track does sound a little sharper, presents some noticeable splits in the rears, and makes better use of the bass. As the camera moves about sound effects can whizz past the viewers and sounds fairly natural and clean. Dialogue sounds clear in both tracks and the track doesn’t present any background noise or damage. Overall a satisfying presentation.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion’s 2-disc set sports a number of nice features. First up on the first disc is an introduction by Jodie Fosterthat runs 15-minutes. Foster played a big role in getting Kassovitz’s 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. It’s not the most in-depth interview but it offers a look at the director’s style and his influences (though I guess that aspect should be obvious to most.)

An audio commentary (in English) by Kassovitz, recorded exclusively for Criterion, is offered up next. 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. It’s 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 it’s an engaging enough director track.

The first disc then closes with two theatrical trailers.

The second dual-layer disc presents the remaining supplements.

First is an 83-minute documentary originally made by Studio Canal for another DVD release entitled Ten Years of “La haine”. 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 Koundé, and Saïd Taghmaoui. The documentary begins by looking at the death of a young Zairian man, who was killed by police during an interrogation (most assume it was an accident, but showed how ridiculous the interrogation was obviously getting.) 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 suggest 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 white, though through an unorthodox process, moving 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 didn’t 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 it’s a pretty standard making-of documentary, never offering anything all that surprising, but it’s still an engaging and entertaining piece.

Social Dynamite is an exclusive piece made for this release. Running 34-minutes it features sociologists Sophie Body-Gendrot, William Hornblum, and Jeffrey Fagan, who all talk about the film’s 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 is occurring in the area. It’s actually a rather thoughtful inclusion on Criterion’s part, offering some context to the film for those unfamiliar with the climate of the film’s location.

Preparing for the Shoot is a 6-minute video journal about the cast and crew’s stay in the public housing neighborhood where they filmed, followed by another 6-minute featurette entitled Preparing for the Shoot. In the latter piece we see behind-the-scenes footage around the scene where Cassel’s character fantasizes about shooting an officer.

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 Cassel’s 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 where Vincent and Hubert talk, and then what appears to be possibly the raw footage around the Eifel Tower sequence. All of this is also accompanied by and “afterword” featuring Kassovitz talking about the sequences and why they didn’t 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.

The booklet comes with a few pieces starting with a decent essay on the film by Ginette Vincendeau followed by a short note by Costa-Gavras on the film’s sociological aspects.

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

8/10

CLOSING

The video leaves room for improvement but it looks good overall. The supplements, a mix of “making-of” and contextual material, also satisfy. The best version of the film I’ve come across, though I would point most to the Blu-ray since it offers a minor upgrade in both audio and video.


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