‘La Haine’ brings up the age-old battle for equality

The guys from “La Haine” – Vinz, Saïd and Hubert

If the French have mastered at least one thing, it’s definitely the art of protesting. “La Haine,” directed and written by Matthieu Kassovitz, is a film that explores the feelings and state of French suburb life in the early ’90s. Starring Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundé and Saïd Taghmaoui as principle cast members, the film focuses on these three second-generation immigrant characters as they embark on a journey to understand their environment and try to become something more than what they are destined to be. Kassovitz shot the film in a black and white documentary style, which giving the film more authenticity as a nonfictional pice of art.

“La Haine” starts off with the aftermath of an all-night protest, in which the suburb where the film takes place is essentially turned upside down — cars have been lit on fire, gymnasiums destroyed, cows are even walking the streets! In other words, shit had gone down the night before. And to top it all off, one of the rookie cops lost his gun. The reason this was an issue was because in France, it was illegal for civilians to carry arms; this meant that one of the protesters found the gun and could use it against the “pigs,” as most of the characters referred to them.

The film highlighted how immigrants would immigrate to Paris, but because many Parisians would look down upon other cultures, they would not allow Paris’ culture to become a melting pot similar to the cultures developed her in America. This type of separation reminded me of the “separate-but-equal” stance many Americans had in the years following the Civil War. And the thing is, this mentality is still prevalent within Parisian society — you can see it in how immigrants congregate in the banlieues (the “projects“) of Paris; there are not many families who have settled down within the bounds of the actual city.

Here is a map of Paris and the surrounding “banlieues”

This film was great for highlighting the violence and mistreatment many of these people lived with. They usually did not have much to live for and ended up not even completing high school. Many of these people were told they would amount to nothing, and chose to keep it that way. The ending still haunts me, though. The fact that someone in such a powerful position can not feel remorse for his actions just puzzles me. But that’s how life is in the banlieues, I guess.

All in all, the film captured the feelings of vengeance for a friend’s death, wanting to do more with one’s life and the “invincibility” associated with youthfulness and packaged it into a 98 minute film.