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Film Review – Kassovitz’s “Rebellion”

Thursday, April 19th, 2012 by

You are a long way from home if Inglorious Bastards is your idea of an artful military flick.  Mathieu Kassovitz’s Rebellion challenges you to dig a little deeper and understand the truth behind the old saying “history is almost always dictated by the victor”.  In his return to true auteur filmmaking, Mathieu Kassovitz (known most for his Cannes Film Festival celebrated La Haine) hand crafts a historical art piece with even strokes of research, honesty and impartiality as he explores the previously untold events of the 1988 Ouvéa cave hostage taking in New Caledonia.

The plot: Under the politically-motivated thumb of Bernard Pons, Minister of Overseas Departments and Territories in the government of Prime Minister of France Jacques Chirac (1974-1976, 1986-1988), the French government systematically undermines the efforts of the GIGN (or National Gendarmerie Intervention Group) to resolve conflict with Kanak hostage-holders with deadlines, dead ends, and dead weight (the French army).

The film begins Tarantino-style, playing the catastrophic scene we’ll be waiting the entire film to understand, followed by a countdown: “T-10 to D-Day”.  By now we know exactly where we’re going and that any deviating plot points we may encounter are meaningless.

Despite all this we meet a perplexing character – one Philippe Legorjus (Captain of the GIGN) – who is called in to prevent the outcome we know is inevitable.  As we observe Legorjus’ actions and their respective conclusions we begin to see Kassovitz’s directorial mission to camouflage the climax with the thoughtful growth of the GIGN characters and the awkward position of the Kanak.

Rebellion is undoubtedly a genre piece, but it can’t be written off as just another whistle blower on corrupt politics.  Mathieu’s Rebellion adds depth to this genre with its focus on a protagonist that remains as human as you or me despite the insurmountable pressure and irrevocable consequences. 

I would recommend Rebellion to any audience; its pacing and dialogue as a work of fiction and its historical accuracy make it a sound combination that will satisfy a diverse crowd.

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