“I want to take a fucking slap across the face when I see a movie. I don’t want to be bored” so says Mathieu Kassovitz during an interview with Steve Rose for The Guardian newspaper whilst discussing the state of modern French cinema and its lack of energy. Lack of energy is something that neither his breakthrough film La Haine (1995) or his 2011 return to social and political filmmaking Rebellion (L’Ordre et la Morale) can be accused of. In the same interview this rather unhappy Frenchman also told us that “were as La Haine was about police brutality, Rebellion is about government brutality”.
Mathieu Kassovitz is not only the director and star of L’Ordre et la Morale but also produced, co-wrote and co-edited it. The story is told from the prospective of Captain Philippe Legorjus (Kassovitz) (on whose 1990 account of the incident the movie is based) head of an elite group of the Gendarmarie Nationale called the GIGN, the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group a special unit trained to perform counter terrorist and hostage rescue.
Told in one long flashback and set on the island of Ouvea, New Caledonia an overseas territory of France located in the Pacific Ocean, but filmed in Tahiti, it recreates a version of event’s which became known as the ‘Ouvea cave hostage taking’ which took place between 22 April 1988 and 5th May 1988 in which members of the separatist group, the National Union for Independence-Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front took 27 people, including a French gendarme and a judge hostage demanding the independence of New Caledonia from France. The French government refused to negotiate and give in to the group’s demands and sent in a joint hostage recovery team.
Kassovitz’s movie shows neither the French army nor the French government in a good light, demonstrating that politics is more important than human welfare or in fact human life during a period of the election battle between Prime Minister Jacques Chirac and Francois Mitterrand. A gritty true story that highlights injustice in this forgotten incident in French colonial history.