IMDb > White Material (2009)
White Material
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White Material (2009) More at IMDbPro »

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White Material -- A drama set in an unnamed African country and centered on a French plantation owner caught in the midst of a civil war.


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Claire Denis (scenario) and
Marie N'Diaye (scenario) ...
View company contact information for White Material on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
24 March 2010 (France) See more »
In the African heat, one woman stands alone
Denis revisits Africa, this time exploring a place rife with civil and racial conflict. A white French... See more » | Add synopsis »
2 wins & 6 nominations See more »
(230 articles)
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User Reviews:
A White flag would be more appropriate. See more (22 total) »


  (in credits order)

Directed by
Claire Denis 
Writing credits
Claire Denis (scenario) and
Marie N'Diaye (scenario)

Lucie Borleteau  collaboration

Produced by
Pascal Caucheteux .... producer
Original Music by
Stuart Staples 
Cinematography by
Yves Cape 
Film Editing by
Guy Lecorne 
Casting by
Richard Rousseau 
Production Design by
Abiassi Saint-Père 
Costume Design by
Judy Shrewsbury 
Makeup Department
Pierre Olivier Persin .... special makeup effects artist
Antonella Prestigiacomo .... key hair stylist
Production Management
Albert Blasius .... production manager
Laurencina Lam .... post-production manager
Thibault Mattei .... unit production manager
Monica Taverna .... unit manager
Isabelle Tillou .... production manager
Olivier Torion .... assistant unit manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Lucie Borleteau .... assistant director
Gervais Djimeli Lekpa .... third assistant director
Anaïs Minet .... second assistant director
Sound Department
Sandie Bompar .... dialogue editor
Fred Mays .... post-synchronisation
Michel Monier .... sound consultant: dolby
Jean-Paul Mugel .... sound
Josefina Rodríguez .... sound editor
Jean-Alexandre Villemer .... sound recordist
Christophe Vingtrinier .... sound re-recording mixer
Christophe Winding .... sound
Visual Effects by
Elodie Glain .... visual effects coordinator
Jean-Francois Theault .... digital compositor
Olivier Veau .... digital compositor
Aurélie Villard .... digital artist
Camera and Electrical Department
Stéphane Bourgoin .... chief electrician: re-shoots
Maxime Cointe .... first assistant camera
Mathieu Dequirot .... electrician: re-shoots
Martin Levent .... second assistant camera
Stéphane Thiry .... key grip
Bruno Verstraete .... gaffer
Sylvain Zambelli .... first assistant camera: re-shoots
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Bernadette Beaudet .... costumer
Claire Tong .... costumer
Editorial Department
Sandie Bompar .... assistant editor
Other crew
Stéphane Boulay .... travelling car
Frédéric Cauvy .... weapons
Antonio Cides .... car preparer
Jean-Jacques Domingues .... car preparer
Jean-Benoit Guillon .... car preparer
Pierre-Axel Vuillaume-Prézeau .... production assistant

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
106 min
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

The role played here by Isabelle Huppert is not dissimilar to the lead character in Doris Lessing's 1950 novel "The Grass is Singing". Huppert always wanted to play that part but Karen Black beat her to it when she appeared in Michael Raeburn's 1981 adaptation.See more »
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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful.
A White flag would be more appropriate., 31 May 2013
Author: johnnyboyz from Hampshire, England

Nobody's asking for constant tales of heroism and villainy. No one wants the same, tired narrative frameworks applied to a piece over and over. Nobody wants a film ticking the boxes that make up a form detailing genre demand every time. Alas, Claire Denis' White Material is so lacking in any sort of punch or concrete reason to give a damn about what's happening that by the end, you end up longing for the pre-sound days of handle-bar moustached sporting men tying young women to railway lines minutes before the hero of the hour rides on in and takes care of business. Here is one of those 'clever' films that depicts a Civil War, as well as all the terror and tension that comes with it, but would like you to think that it's actually secondary to all the "nothingness" going on in the foreground. You know the kind of approach I'm talking about, that sort that should one depict such an understated approach to an event in favour of just nothing, it's somehow "smart". The truth arrives much more crudely than we'd have liked, a film devoid of any sort of intelligence nor reason to even exist; a film without any of the threat that comes with good war films, a film without a grain of interest in its depiction of people too entrenched in their processes to act accordingly – a film without a reason to care; a detached film with very little to get excited about.

Unfolding in an unspecified Black African country fluent in French, the film covers a woman named Maria (Huppert) desperate to unload a coffee bean harvest in spite of the fact the elements, in the form of machine gun wielding child soldiers, are rapidly seeping their way across the country. The central idea isn't difficult to see, this notion revolving around the short sightedness of Capitalists too imbued in their own methods and getting a product out to think about themselves and those around them. The premise, equally resounding on paper, will see Huppert's character traipse around a desolate, Spaghetti Western-inflected terrain rife with war and suffering attempting to find people qualified to reap her harvest. Later on, she must maintain relationships with her former husband and son as well as care for an opposition soldier she's taken into the farm's care. The reality is, again, a piece as dry as the climate depicted within; a film as plodding in its depiction of plants being picked, grounded and plantation life in general being ploughed on with as anything else you could name. At least those Italian neo-realist films which were born out of the Second World War had an urgency to them, had something striking about them in spite similar grounds upon which to revolve around "nothing".

Things start ominously, beginning with the militarian threat in the form of a group of soldiers wading through a series of homes housed now only by the dead within the dark of the night. Things move to the past tense and we witness Maria hide from a truck full of these soldiers as it trundles down the dirt road, wary of the threat but more wary of the threat posed at her coffee beans back home: a fine crop which will be all but ruined because she cannot find the hands to do the required job out of this insurgency. Back at the plantation, frenzied requests from that of Maria's relatives fall on deaf ears. She, in spite of being white, sees herself as indigenous to this Black African nation and doesn't see as to why she should leave.

Her son, Manuel (Duvauchelle), makes for the one character who changes the most as the film progresses; leaving his shy, socially distanced existence for sake of shaving his head of hair; grabbing an assault shotgun and going out on the hunt for blacks after they humiliate him out in the fields during this war. Here is a depiction of something; a character study of someone beginning as one thing, having this outside agency in the form of the war come and affect him, before depicting this person going out and getting involved. Did the young man become enveloped by a hatred of Black Africans? Was it the potentially violent encounter that changed him, enrapturing him with a desire to actually taste violence? Is he destined to live out his days as a Neo-Nazi as of now?

The film, in fact, gets things so wrong so often that prior to his transformation it will need to induce drama from the meekest of places when it has Manuel naively venture out of the plantation in order to encounter these Blacks, much in the same way an English language 'slasher' film will perpetrate such things for shrill thrills. Where that aggrieves us there, we should not allow an auteur produced French language piece to fool us here? I read that Denis spent some time in Black French Africa during her childhood and people both speak and write of how film making can be a very personalised thing. If such a thing is true, where is the personalised stamp on her piece of work here? Where is the capturing of life in Black Africa from a white person's perspective, and why is it that such a person feels the need to depict life for such a woman in such a place during a time of war? Was there not enough drama in the first place? As far as French dramas go, White Material is a confused and wholly uninvolving effort.

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