There is no doubt that the most difficult periods of human history often serve as a source of inspiration for people related to art. Using the real facts together with numerous artistic solutions, directors of many movies which are based on real events manage to fulfill a few tasks simultaneously: they demonstrate the terrible events from a historical viewpoint and encourage the audience to formulate their own opinions on the topic.
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The two movies that are discussed in the given work, La Haine by Kassovitz and The Battle of Algiers by Pontecorvo seem to be devoted to the same topic even though they present and discuss problems of people in different locations (Evans par. 2). Belonging to different genres, both works show the consequences of misunderstanding between people of different ethnicities and the devastation of society that the failure to come to accommodations entails.
La Haine is the movie that was filmed by Kassovitz more than twenty years ago (Hussey par. 1). Speaking about the range of topics touched upon by the director, it is important to note that the plot is based on the story of Abdel who is in a coma due to the unfair attitude of the police in Paris, treating people unequally based on many factors including their ethnicity. During the disorders in the city, one policeman loses his gun which is then found by the friend of Abdel who decides to take revenge and stand up for him. The opposition of the policy which is expected to mitigate the external threats for people and young men from working-class families can be regarded as the primary topic of the movie which defines its title.
The life of non-French people in France (the three primary characters) is depicted in its true colors with the help of numerous means of expression. Among these means, it is possible to single out the architecture shown in the movie, space, and the decision of the director to make the movie black and white. As for the latter, it can be regarded as a device helping the audience to focus on the feelings of the primary characters seeing their goal in withstanding the police. The friends live in a ghetto where all the houses look identical, and it also helps the viewer to see the hopelessness that encourages them to do anything to show that they do not want to be ignored anymore.
Vinz, Said, and Hubert belong to different cultures, but the presence of the mutual enemy (the police) acts as the cohesive force for them. Being unable to study, work, and live happier lives, friends create their own culture to do anything and stay motivated, but the police use every single chance to demonstrate that they are hopeless. The so-called “Manichaeism” space is demonstrated with the help of architecture and the behavior of people: the constant fear on the faces of people from ghetto acts as the best indicator of their quality of life. According to the lesson commentary, the government in France utilizes the “colonial” approach when it comes to solving problems with people of African descent, and this opinion looks credible in the light of the events shown in the movie.
Unlike the previously discussed movie, The Battle of Algiers shows the real war which changes the life of every family in Algeria (O’Leary 17). Interestingly, the movie is seen as a combination of fiction and documentary (Virtue 317). The oppression of non-French people is shown in another way; as is clear from many scenes, the policemen are not limited by any frames when it comes to dealing with militants. Despite that, the movie was supposed to show the events from a neutral perspective (Stoddard et al. 9).
The oppression of non-French people in Algeria is more obvious than that from La Haine due to situations that are completely different. In The Battle of Algiers, there is a lot of scenes depicting violent attitude to Algerian people who, in their turn, try to withstand the French power and detonate bombs in the streets (Drew 22). Just like La Haine, The Battle of Algiers is black and white and it increases the feeling of authenticity. The important element that needs to be compared is architecture. In The Battle of Algiers, the jail can be regarded as a particular character, its architecture acts as a symbol of the stolen freedom whereas the friends from La Haine still have a right to make decisions. The “Manichaeism” space in the movie is characterized by a large gulf between the French police and the militants who present the opposite classes – there is almost no communication between them, just a blind rage encouraging them to struggle to the last breath.
In the end, it is obvious that both movies show the oppression of non-French people, but the police use their power to different degrees. The movies seem to demonstrate the stories which are both based on the opposition, but it is hard to compare the scale of the tragedies shown. The most important difference related to the representation of ethnic aggression in the movies is that Vinz and his friends have more opportunities to express their opinions and change their lives; in the case of the characters of Pontecorvo, the need to do everything to accelerate decolonization is critical.
Drew, Allison. “Visions of Liberation: The Algerian War of Independence and Its South African Reverberations.” Review of African Political Economy, vol. 42, no. 143, 2015, pp. 22-43.
Evans, Martin. “The Battle of Algiers: Historical Truth and Filmic Representation.” OpenDemocracy.
Hussey, Andrew. “La Haine 20 Years on: What has Changed?” The Guardian.
O’Leary, Alan. “The Battle of Algiers at Fifty: End of Empire Cinema and the First Banlieue Film.” Film Quart, vol. 70, no. 2, 2016, pp. 17-29.
Stoddard, Jeremy, et al. “The Burden of Historical Representation: The Case of/for Indigenous Film.” The History Teacher, vol. 48, no. 1, 2014, pp. 9-36.
Virtue, Nancy. “Poaching within the system: Gillo Pontecorvo’s Tactical Aesthetics in The Battle of Algiers.” Screen, vol. 55, no. 3, 2014, pp. 317-337.