Criterion’s 2-disc set sports a number of nice features. First up on the first disc is an introduction by Jodie Fosterthat runs 15-minutes. Foster played a big role in getting Kassovitz’s film released in the U.S. and here she talks about what drew her to his style and this film, and even points out her favourite moments. It’s not the most in-depth interview but it offers a look at the director’s style and his influences (though I guess that aspect should be obvious to most.)
An audio commentary (in English) by Kassovitz, recorded exclusively for Criterion, is offered up next. Kassovitz sounds a bit laid back but manages to keep the track engaging as he talks primarily about the production, particularly the origin of it, the casting, the shoot, influences on his style, and the reception of the film. It’s a fine track but ultimately most of this material is covered throughout the rest of the supplements in the set, so whether one wishes to listen to it is completely up to them. But again it’s an engaging enough director track.
The first disc then closes with two theatrical trailers.
The second dual-layer disc presents the remaining supplements.
First is an 83-minute documentary originally made by Studio Canal for another DVD release entitled Ten Years of “La haine”. Here we get interviews with many of the participants in the production of the film, including, but not limited to, Kassovitz and actors Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundé, and Saïd Taghmaoui. The documentary begins by looking at the death of a young Zairian man, who was killed by police during an interrogation (most assume it was an accident, but showed how ridiculous the interrogation was obviously getting.) From here Kassovitz decided to make a social conscious film that could also work as an entertainment, similar to the American films he grew up on (his style suggest Spike Lee is a major influence.) From here the documentary gets into details about the financing, the decision to do the film in black and white, though through an unorthodox process, moving in with the locals to gain their trust, and how some of the more complex shots in the film were done, including a helicopter sequence. Kassovitz talks about the difficulties in editing, specifically the fact that he didn’t have many options because of how he shot the film. From here it gets into screenings, its premiere and the various awards it won. In all it’s a pretty standard making-of documentary, never offering anything all that surprising, but it’s still an engaging and entertaining piece.
Social Dynamite is an exclusive piece made for this release. Running 34-minutes it features sociologists Sophie Body-Gendrot, William Hornblum, and Jeffrey Fagan, who all talk about the film’s banlieue setting. They go over the history of public housing France, comparing it to similar projects in the States, and the sociological effect it can have on those born and raised there. It also touches on the economic issues that arose throughout the years as well as the political climate that lead to the unrest that is occurring in the area. It’s actually a rather thoughtful inclusion on Criterion’s part, offering some context to the film for those unfamiliar with the climate of the film’s location.
Preparing for the Shoot is a 6-minute video journal about the cast and crew’s stay in the public housing neighborhood where they filmed, followed by another 6-minute featurette entitled Preparing for the Shoot. In the latter piece we see behind-the-scenes footage around the scene where Cassel’s character fantasizes about shooting an officer.
Criterion next includes a collection of Deleted and Extended Scenes. We first get two deleted scenes, running under 2-minutes total, one involving what I think is an alternate scene to the police confrontation on the roof, and the other involving Cassel’s character trying to figure out if a homeless man is dead or not. The two extended scenes, running about 5-minutes, present a slightly longer sequence where Vincent and Hubert talk, and then what appears to be possibly the raw footage around the Eifel Tower sequence. All of this is also accompanied by and “afterword” featuring Kassovitz talking about the sequences and why they didn’t make it as is into the film, even sharing an anecdote or two.
The disc then closes with a small photo gallery featuring about 14 photos with title cards.
The booklet comes with a few pieces starting with a decent essay on the film by Ginette Vincendeau followed by a short note by Costa-Gavras on the film’s sociological aspects.
And that covers it. It does add some contextual material but it’s mostly about the making of the film. Still, the supplements are all engaging and worth moving one’s way through. 8/10