La Haine: The Greatest Movie Ever Made?

This afternoon I watched what must be one of my favourite movies of all time, La Haine.

The film, the title of which means Hate, is an incredibly powerful French movie about a group of youths on a deprived housing estate outside Paris (in France the inner cities are outside the cities) the day after a riot started when police beat up a local boy. The three main characters are Vinz, who is Jeiwsh, Hubert, who is black, and Said, who is Arabic. The film follows them as they wander around the estate, and later on into Paris: they talk, smoke dope, get arrested, fight with skinheads, gate-crash art exhibitions, all the time with the events of the riot hanging, especially the loss of a policeman’s gun, over them.

It’s an incredibly acted film with stunning cinematography – I always think that it’s the film that Spike Lee must watch and wonder “Why can’t I make a film this good?” It’s like a black & white Do The Right Thing, but without the annoying polemical tone, and with the style of an art-house movie. The heros in the movie aren’t necessarily the obvious ones, whilst the ending is, within the space of 30 seconds, incredibly life-affirming and utterly devastating.

The scene at the top of the post is one showing an amazing bit of mixing – which other movie would have KRS One and Edith Piaf in the same scene? And carrying on the hip-hop theme, it also includes some amazing break-dancing which you can see below. I love this film more than I can really explain because of scenes like these, and many other reasons, and can only suggest that you buy La Haine now.


  1. Based on your recommendation, next time I go into HMV I’ll make a note to pick up a copy of this. Although not generally being a fan of Hip Hop, it might end up being a savage review!

    Having said that, there were certain aspects of 8 Mile that I quite enjoyed. The bonus footage was outstanding, especially the battle competition with the extras. Actually made me realise that Eminem is a really good lyricist, and has an amazing ability to think on his feet.

  2. I watched this for the first time a couple of months ago and really enjoyed it. I thought it was a powerful film and quite comic in places which I wasn’t expecting. I’d second the recommendation although it’s not quite in my top 10… ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. AMC – I’d hate you to think that this is a ‘hip-hop film’ – I just love those two scenes. It’s a film about friendship, loyalty, despair, hope, alienation and a million and one other things, where the main protagonists just happen to be into hip-hop. Just like Fever Pitch isn’t really a football film, or Quadrophenia a rock film – these things just provide the background around which the films are built.

    And on not liking hip-hop – that sounds like a challenge to me – let me try to find some things that everyone should like!

  4. A fair point, presented with films that I can relate to. Although, I didn’t like Fever Pitch. I’ve read Nick Hornby’s books and would say that High Fidelity is by far his best. Even though it got ripped to shit by Hollywood and moved to the US, they still managed to produce an ok film. Fever Pitch just didn’t grab me, especially the book.

    Quadrophenia on the other hand is a top flick. Got my mitts on the special edition DVD a while back and the extra stuff is great. My only gripe with it is the limited sound track. Much as The Who are good, pretty much an entire film with their music can become a tad tiresome. Mind you, what did I expect when it was effectively Daltry’s flick.

    I look forward to you recommending a hipperty hopperty sing song… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. I have to say that I really liked the High Fidelity movie, though About A Boy is the best Hornby film, with an awesome soundtrack too.

    Sent you a list of tracks to try out, but one that I missed (well an entire album) is Dirty Old Hip Hop by Marc Mac & The Visioneers (their version of The Pharcyde’s Runnin’ is awesome). It’s an instrumental album, by one of the guys behind 4hero and all the tracks are covers of hip hop tracks or tracks that hip hop sampled. Simply lovely.

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