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Racial reflection: La Haine and the art of borrowing

Doughty, R. and Griffiths, Katherine 2006. Racial reflection: La Haine and the art of borrowing. Studies in European Cinema 3 (2) , pp. 117-127. 10.1386/seci.3.2.117_1

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The trope of the mirror is prevalent in La Haine/Hate (1995). Structurally the film is constructed around a series of recurring images, around a collection of cinematic citations reflected and refracted from elsewhere. On a narrative level, characters frequently look into mirrors. However, what becomes visible in the reflective surface of the looking glass is not a sense of identity, but rather a sense of lack. Estranged from their ancestry and marginalized from the society of their present, Vinz, Hubert and Sad borrow from other sources (historical, cinematic, linguistic) in order to create a sense of presence and identity. Like the film in which they star, they frequently borrow from Black American culture, film and heritage. However, the borrowed masks certain characters create for themselves prove to be problematic. They do not always fit. Moreover, the sense of origin they provide is shifting for a number of the sources from which the boys and film borrow are themselves already borrowed. By allowing us to fall into the coils of the palimpsest of Vinz's identity in La Haine, the film powerfully underlines the ever-receding absence which constitutes the only presence of his being.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Modern Languages
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
Uncontrolled Keywords: Mathieu Kassovitz; Spike Lee; borrowing; mirrors; origin; race
Publisher: Intellect
ISSN: 1741-1548
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 05:58

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