The Criterion Collection has given La Haine a stunningly effective Blu-ray treatment. The 1080p transfer brings out the very best in Pierre Aïm’s cinematography. The black-and-white imagery looks very sharp and detailed, with rich subtleties in the various shades of gray. Close-ups of actor’s faces practically allow the viewer to count pores. Wide shots aren’t quite as sharp, and natural film grain is more noticeable but never distracting. Director Mathieu Kassovitz supervised the transfer and he has every right to be proud of the way his movie looks in high definition.
The audio of La Haine is equally impressive, with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that does much more than showcase the film’s dialogue. It does that just fine, with the French dialogue sounding natural and free distortion. But all channels are used effectively, with ambient effects creating a realistic audio environment that suits the realism of the film. Not that anyone would describe this as an action film, but there are some rowdier scenes that involve the surround channels to a significant degree. During these action-oriented segments, the mix is satisfyingly immersive.
A fair amount of supplemental features are included on La Haine. Kassovitz provides a director’s commentary track that sheds a great deal of light on all aspects of the film. A substantial, feature-length documentary “Ten Years of La Haine” contains further insights from Kassovitz, as well as the film’s producers and some of the principal actors. “Social Dynamite” is a half-hour piece that takes a sociological view of the film, putting it in the context of real-life contemporary France. Jodie Foster, a huge supporter of the film, is featured in an enthusiastic 15 minute introduction. A couple of short featurettes and a selection of brief deleted scenes round out the extras. As usual with Criterion, a meaty booklet accompanies the release, packed with photos and informative essays.