From Europe with Love, Deep­er Into Movies

Steven T. Hanley loves indie movies and documentaries and his favourite European film has always been La Haine.

Audio tran­scrip­tion:

My name is Steven T. Han­ley, I run Deep­er Into Movies. For the past three years we’ve been cel­e­brat­ing Indie/​World/​Documentaries and espe­cial­ly over­looked and under­seen in movies. My favourite Euro­pean film has always been La Haine, I saw it back in the 90’s on video. 

I always love movies set and one day, movies where a whole bunch of crazy shit plays out over 24 hours. It’s based around three friends: a Jew, an African and an Arab — a strong reflec­tion of the immi­grant cul­ture at the time. It’s set in mod­ern day France in a low income hous­ing dis­trict in Paris and the three main char­ac­ters Vince, Hubert and Saïd as they’re hang­ing out aim­less­ly through the day, the day after there’s police riots in response to a young per­son being killed in police cus­tody. And the film real­ly puts a spot­light on the immi­grant cul­ture in Paris. 

I remem­ber when it came out it caused a real stir, the French police hat­ed it. The prime min­is­ter of France at the time com­mis­sioned a spe­cial screen­ing of the film for the cab­i­net, but he came away and said, It’s a beau­ti­ful piece of cin­e­ma and it makes us more aware of cer­tain real­i­ties, despite the anti-police themes.’ And look­ing back, the film does not get old. It doesn’t age. It’s still styl­is­ti­cal­ly stun­ning, the per­for­mances were amaz­ing, a lot of them first time actors. And sad­ly it still holds polit­i­cal and social rel­e­vance and just that raw ener­gy of the movie and that ten­sion in that movie and the way it’s just build­ing and build­ing and sim­mer­ing like it could all kick off at any point. I think is kind of that ener­gy you have mak­ing a debut film. It’s just so pow­er­ful and I think is clear­ly a big influ­ence on oth­er awe­some stuff like Top Boy and City of God.

There’s such a dis­trust and hate for the police and the author­i­ties, but on the flip side it’s real­ly fun­ny. It’s a real­ly fun­ny movie, I love the char­ac­ters. I grew up in Harles­den, North West Lon­don and I real­ly con­nect­ed with them as did my friends. You know, we were bored, we lis­tened to hip hop, we smoked a lot of weed, we cared about our clothes and it’s worth point­ing out my friends loved the movie and these guys weren’t film nerds like me. The last thing they’d want to watch when they came over was like a black and white French movie with sub­ti­tles but five min­utes in they were like, Ok this is great. I total­ly get these guys.’ 

Prob­a­bly the cra­zi­est thing about this movie is it was shot in colour and I lit­er­al­ly can’t imag­ine it any oth­er way than that stark, mono­chrome, black and white. It’s one of the coolest things about the film but it was lit­er­al­ly a deci­sion in post-pro­duc­tion to make it black and white, which is fuck­ing crazy. Espe­cial­ly because some­times I remem­ber when we were real­ly pre­ten­tious in col­lege, we’d tried to make every­thing black and white in post pro­duc­tion but it wouldn’t look good because it wasn’t filmed that way, so cer­tain clothes would just look gaudy, or weird cars and stuff. But La Haine per­fect­ly works in black and white, and I kind of wish I didn’t know. There’s cer­tain things you find out about movies that you wish you nev­er knew, and that’s real­ly one of them. I just like to think of it in black and white. Beau­ti­ful. Timeless.

Anoth­er thing I real­ly loved about the movie is it’s got that crazy, kinet­ic, hyper speed cam­era work with loads of whips and pans. There’s that amaz­ing slow-motion scene where Hubert is box­ing. There’s an amaz­ing scene where they’re on the rooftop which is real­ly icon­ic where the cam­era zooms and I think at the same time it’s mov­ing in as well. And it blew my mind when I was a film student. 

I spent lit­er­al­ly half a day on a film set try­ing to recre­ate this shot. Also I think my favourite scene, I loved the open­ing shot of the earth being petrol bombed. That’s freak­ing amaz­ing. And weird­ly I love this whole recur­ring thing that Vince keeps on say­ing that he’s seen a cow walk­ing around the estate and every­one thinks he’s high or out of his mind or he’s dream­ing, but then you do see the cow and it’s just, it’s such a great, odd piece in the film. 

It kind of reminds me of some­thing of sounds like from a Jim Jar­musch movie but it also reminds me of J.G. Bal­lard who wrote Empire of The Sun, he was writ­ing about World War Two and walk­ing around after bomb­ings and see­ing real­ly bizarre, sur­re­al things like pets run­ning wild, a bed that’s just blown in half, next to a toi­let, next to a fridge, next to a pile of clothes and all these kind of real­ly sur­re­al things that don’t real­ly belong together.

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