Analyse how the themes of youth culture and youth oppression are prominent in the council estate scene of “La Haine”

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La Haine is the French term for “the hate”. The film shows a day in the life of three French men, with similar interests, but very different backgrounds. La Haine shows the illegal dealings they are involved in, and their unusual home lives. The main character, Abdel is never actually shown. But the other characters are frustrated because he was beaten up by the violent police. Also the story is based around him. La Haine is an action-packed crime film, which has unique features, mainly as it is set in black and white. The film was realised in 1995, and directed by Matthew Kassowitz.

The main stars were Vincent Cassel (Vinz), Said Taghaimou (Said), and Hubert Kounde (Hubert). The film analyses youth culture and youth oppression. This meant how young people acted, thought and were influenced by their peers. This essay will analyse the council estate scene in La Haine. The essay will also comment on the media technique used by Kassowitz, and the way each character behaved at certain points of the scene. At the beginning of the scene, Hubert (a black French man) is shown going into his flat, at a medium camera angle.

The lighting is dark in this part of the scene; Kassowitz does this to show a dirty atmosphere. The camera angle, deco and the way the furniture is set out, makes the flat very claustrophobic. Kassowitz deliberately did this, to show how small the flats were inside, as well as outside. Hubert lives with his pregnant mother and sister. He kisses them at different points in the scene; he does this to show he loves them. Hubert is asked by his sister to help with her homework; however he can’t do this as he isn’t as well educated as her.

Hubert then visits his mother in the kitchen. He asks about a family member, which isn’t mentioned in any other part of the film, this character is in prison. This could show the family has a troubled past. Hubert’s mother than explains she is in debt. Hubert leaves the money, (which is from drugs) on the fridge. Hubert left the money on the fridge, because he is the money source of the house, and by leaving it on the fridge (the family’s life support machine), he is contributing in the run of the family. Hubert and his mother then go in the living room.

The claustrophobic atmosphere is more noticeable in here, because of the angle of the television. Hubert tells his mother how he hates the Projects, and the trouble caused on it. His mother is calm and supportive, however I doubt anyone else knows about Hubert’s hatred towards the Projects. Whilst that is happening, Said and Vinz (the other main characters) visit a grocery shop. They are intimidating towards other customers, because Vinz can’t afford to pay for his product. At the beginning of this section of the scene, the aisles are shown by a panned camera.

This part of the scene appears to be calm and relaxing, until Vinz bullies an older customer, because she won’t give him any money for his product. Maybe an older person would react calmer in the same situation. However Kassowitz may have specifically told the actor who plays Vinz, to over react in this situation. After this, Kassowitz makes a camera zoom on Said. Said appears distressed, but youth oppression is making him join in with Vinz acting intimidating. The older customers may think the youth culture in France is aggressive and superior to the older generation, because of Vinz and Said’s behaviour.

There are a whole range of ages, and nationalities in the shop. Kassowitz expresses this by having the camera at the front of the shop. When Said is aggressive to the shopkeeper, he uses racist remarks to attack him. This may make the older citizens think the youth culture is racist. When Said and Vinz have left, the older citizens just get on with their everyday lives, without Said and Vinz bothering them. Kassowitz then uses fast editing to go back to Hubert’s flat. This time Hubert is alone, in his bedroom. Hubert is relaxing, by listening to some chill out music.

Hubert does this to leave the problems he faces from the Projects, outside his bedroom door. Hubert has posters of sport ideals, and weights in his room. Kassowitz may have put these there to indicate Hubert wants a career in sport. Also, in other parts of the film, Hubert is seen boxing in his own gym; this also shows Hubert’s enthusiasm towards sport. Surprisingly Hubert then takes the drugs he deals in. The camera angle extreme close up is used to show which drug he takes. Hubert jumps, when he hears a noise from outside.

He immediately turns his music off, and Kassowitz edits the scene to Hubert looking out the window. Hubert is looking down on the projects, his facial expression shows Hubert has had enough of the Projects and is distressed by it. A camera then shows the Projects from Hubert’s window. The camera movement pan shows the many cultures which live on the estate. The people who live on the estate seem to interact very well. They do their own individual thing, and do things which usually aren’t done outside. I think this happens because of the claustrophobic way the Projects are set out.

A camera rises up to a high window in the Projects; where a DJ is mixing music. The DJ is mixing in a plain room alone, and mixing a song relevant to the Police. In my opinion the DJ is a well respected member of the community in the Projects. Kassowitz shows this by the location of the room, and how talented he is at mixing. The song the DJ is mixing, is telling people to “ignore the police”. This is another sign of leadership, as the residents will listen to the song. The lighting used by Kassowitz in this section, is much lighter compared to the other sections.

This could show a positive atmosphere in the flat, as the DJ is excellent at mixing. The final part of the scene shows a Bird’s eye view of the Projects, from the DJ’s window. The camera movement, tilt, shows the scene as if the viewer was actually flying over the Projects. To look at the Projects are very bland and plain. The estate is just concrete, no wildlife or countryside is nearby. The music, which was used in the DJ scene, is added in to add excitement, and in my opinion makes the scene flow better. At the very end of the scene, the camera gets faster and faster.

Kassowitz does this to get the viewer out of the claustrophobic atmosphere of the Projects, and into the French open air in the next scene. In many ways Kassowitz has shown youth culture and oppression. Examples of youth culture have been shown inside and outside the home. The mature way Hubert acts towards to his mother. Then the immature way Vinz acts towards the shopkeeper and customers. Youth oppression is also shown, when Said joins in being aggressive to the shopkeeper. In my opinion the characters are shown having different personalities at different points of the film, a good side and a bad side.

Also, Kassowitz uses realistic examples of youth culture and oppression, in everyday events. This can make the viewer of the film think, somewhere at sometime, that same thing has happened. Kassowitz made the film in black and white. By doing this and using fast editing; it has made the film seem like a dream, flashback or an unusual event. This has given La Haine its own genre. By doing this, and using realistic storylines, La Haine has become a great success for Kassowitz. I think Kassowitz is sending out several messages in La Haine.

The first one being, that young people have respect for their families, even if they don’t have for anything else. This is clearly shown in the first part of the scene, when Hubert is at home. Another key point Kassowitz analyses is peer pressure. This happens mostly in the shop section, with Vinz and Said, however at different points of the film, all three characters have been peer pressured. This can also be classed as youth oppression. Kassowitz shows many realistic things young people do. But by showing two sides to each character, makes the viewer think; are the young people in La Haine that bad?

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