Mathieu Kassovitz, 1995
2020, a year which will be remembered for political infirmity, saw waves of violence towards Black communities; it saw systemic racism rear its head in the form of police brutality, as it assuredly, cyclically does. Concurrently, Mathieu Kassovitz’ La Haine, inspired by France’s anti-police milieu of the late 80s and early 90s and the murders of Makome B’Bowole and student protestor Malik Oussekine, celebrated its 25th anniversary. La Haine sees 20 hours in the life of Vinz, Saïd, and Hubert, inhabitants of Paris’ banlieues, a region of post-war “projects” at the capital’s peripheries. Shot entirely in inky black and white, referentially gesturing towards Martin Scorsese’s oeuvre and hip-hop culture, La Haine hisses with volatility without fetishising the climate it explores.
The film’s architecture incisively positions police brutality as the very real threat it is, particularly towards disenfranchised immigrant communities. The labyrinthine spaces of the banlieues emphasise the police occupancy of every corner, every shadow; each space is vulnerable under sprawling eyes — of Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud in the form of giant frescoes, of the armed police who snake through the caverns of dilapidation.
La Haine has sustained thematic relevance over the course of 25 years. Yet, its political resonance is not all that has endured. The streetwear worn by Vinz, Saïd, and Hubert has its place in the global contemporary: Nike windbreakers, Carharrt hats and jackets, Sergio Tacchini tracksuits, Lacoste. The blend of utility and style is at home in Paris’ banlieues as it across the Atlantic in American hip-hop culture. As Adam Wray for ssense put it: "fashion sources from the street, reproduces on the runway, and chases its tail back and forth across oceans". Timeless though its shadowy black and white aesthetic may be, it is only ever in tandem with its sartorial, cultural specificity. The film’s resonance sees the past with scathing accuracy; it sympathises with a narrative while urging for its conclusion.
footnote: This year, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of La Haine, Carharrt WIP created an exclusive capsule collection in collaboration with its creator and director Matthieu Kassovitz. The collection includes a hoodie, t-shirts, and a beanie similar to the one worn by the character Hubert; three of the t-shirts feature behind the scenes shots by photographer Gilles Favier, whose black and white photography influenced the film’s aesthetic.