In the eyes of the three characters from the film La Haine, Paris appears as a city that is both attractive and oppressive, close and familiar, but also terribly inaccessible. How does the film explain the origin of this conflicting relationship between Paris and its suburbs?

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La Haine (translated into English as “Hate”) is a black-and-white film directed by French filmmaker, screenwriter, and producer Mathieu Kassovitz, released in 1995.

The film takes a Marxist approach in explaining the origin of this conflicting relationship between Paris and its suburbs, as it centers its analysis on race and class conflict. The three main protagonists—Vinz, Hubert, and Said—for example, all come from immigrant families and lower middle class backgrounds. They live in the banlieues (suburbs) near Paris, most of which are known to be “poverty traps” due to its poor infrastructure and education systems, capital flight, and environmental degradation.

Paris, known to the rest of the world as a place of romance and glamour, means something else to the three main protagonists: it is a dream that is simultaneously so close yet so far. This is because, while they can indeed reach Paris in a few hours’ time, the three can ill afford the luxuries Paris with which is associated, and so Paris remains “terribly inaccessible”.

Towards the end of the film, Vinz is unjustly shot by a police officer. Hubert, rushing to Vinz’ aid, points a gun at the police officer—at this point, a single gunshot is heard, but with no indication if it is Hubert or the police officer who fired the shot. The film then ends with Hubert’s opening lines (“It’s about a society in free fall…”), which serve to underline the hopelessness of their situation and their rage at how their plight is constantly overlooked due to the over-romanticization of Paris.

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