Rebellion (2011) Poster


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great, yet virtually unknown
dragokin5 May 2013
I stumbled upon this one while browsing through Matthieu Kassovitz's filmography only because i've been acquainted with his previous work. However, it seems that Hollywood remains merciless and after one not-bad movie like Gothika (2003) and one sub-par like Babylon A.D. (2008) Mathieu had to turn back to France for funding.

Rebellion (L'ordre et la morale) is as dramatic but not as much action driven as, for example, Black Hawk Down (2001) or Saving Private Ryan (2008), yet we know almost everything about the latter movies and virtually nothing about Rebellion. And at times it paints the big picture as monumental as Apocalypse Now (1979). So, i tried to understand why is this movie kept below radar level.

Probably the main reasons are that it's in French and portraying events on an almost forgotten island in Pacific Ocean. But as the story develops we encounter all axioms of colonialism (ore deposit, indigenous people striving for independence, disinterested politicians, trigger-happy military) creating a powder keg bound to explode.

Trapped in the middle is a negotiator played by Mathieu Kassovitz himself. He is usually good at what he's doing, but politicians would like to see a quick solution in the light of impending elections. Military is excited to see some action and there is little need for a negotiator that would like to resolve the deadlock by talking to the rebels.

This is enough to give you a flavor of what you see in Rebellion, but also leaves you with a question why we don't know about it. Obviously, there are other things that make a movie popular apart from good script, captivating photography and exquisite performance by the actors. Yet i always feel bad when a stupefying blockbuster gets more media attention than a masterpiece like Rebellion.
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Terrorism (spoilers)
PoppyTransfusion19 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This film has a late and very limited release in London, UK. It's a strong film that shows the terrible price people pay for political expediency. In 1988 as the French general elections were looming, a group of activists in New Calendonia affiliated to the FLNK, a rebel group campaigning for the territory's independence from France, storm one of the island's Gendarmeries, killing four of the policemen and taking another 30 hostage. The GIGN, the Gendarmaries' special forces unit, are enlisted to negotiate and secure the hostages release. Unbeknownst to them the prime minister of the time, Jacques Chirac, has sent in 300 soldiers whose aim is to crush the rebellion by FLNK activists. Chirac's actions are suggested to be for his and his party's political ends in the forthcoming election regardless of the longer term consequences. There is a very nice moment where Kassovitz splices archive footage of a televised debate between Chirac and Mitterand (the incumbent president whose post Chirac was gunning for) where they discuss the hostage situation in New Caledonia. Both are talking heads only and Chirac's words are those of an arch liar.

Importantly the FLNK are labelled a 'terrorist' group by the French government who, consequently, will not be seen to negotiate or enter into discussions with them. The label terrorist is used too readily by governments and has been cynically exploited since the 9/11 events by many countries to crush dissidence. We witness through this fictional account, told from the point of view of the GIGN's lead officer and main negotiator Phillipe (Kassovitz), how destructive a government's might and the blind allegiance of its military is to people it allegedly represents, like the New Caledonians, who the film emphasises are French citizens. In no uncertain terms the film shows that the Kanaks, the indigenous people in New Caledonia, are decent people with a fine sense of morality and honour. When we meet the rebels their leader, Alphonse Dianou, is eloquent and focused and, unlike some iconic freedom fighters, very sorry for the deaths to the Gendarmeries that were not part of the plan but the result of panic. He and his men seek a peaceful solution and place their trust in Phillipe to obtain that.

The lead protagonist Phillipe is a much more complex and dubious character than Dianou or any of the rebels. The film shows the political machinations that thwart his efforts for a peaceful solution based on dialogue and negotiation. Once his own efforts are crushed he pledges himself to his men and to being a 'soldier' and ends up betraying the trust the activists and in particular, Dianou, had placed in him. If the film is meant to engage the viewer to sympathise with Phillipe then it fails in some respects because I despised him for his actions.

This is a solid film with an interesting and layered story, great acting, especially from those who play the rebels, and moving. New Calendonia is not a place with which I was familiar but it's on my mental map now. They are due to vote next year, 26 years since the events of the film, on independence. Good luck to them. I hope they gain their independence if that is what the vote returns. The French interest in the territory has been for the nickel and nothing more. Dianou has a powerful speech about the conversion of the world into money and the legacy that bequeaths. What little we see of the Kanak culture shows quite clearly that people can live happily without a system based upon money rather than goods or services.
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truth hurts but lies kill...
originalstyle818 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
L'ordre et la morale hits you like a sweet 3 punch combo...body, body, head...everything is on point, image (the opening scene, the helicopter landings, the reconstitution of the attack on the police station, the Mitterand/Chirac debate, the breathing jungle, the assault on the cave, Kassovitz's character in the helicopter upon learning of the second assault), sound, script (special mention to Alphonse's monologue by the fire, the old man's message from the rest of the village to the hostage takers and pretty much any of the scenes with the ambassador or the generals...minimal but extremely effective use of music...easily one of the best french films of the past ten years. Thank you Mr. Kassovitz.
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A must see fist in the face.
searchanddestroy-126 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is the best Mathieu Kasssovitz' picture up now. This one, he thought about it since a while now. He did not make it only to pay his bills. It will remain his masterpiece. Nothing to do with BABYLON AD, that was not his actual work. Every movie lover knows that.

This very one tells in details everything about the famous and bloody affair of the Ouvea cave, which occurred in May 1988, where the french army elite troops annihilated the local rebels - the Kanaks - who had taken a bunch of soldiers as hostages. This film is awesome because we don't find here any good soldiers vs bad rebels or bad soldiers vs good rebels scheme. The real ugly ones are ONLY the politicians who ordered the slaughter of the rebels, despite the hostages' lives!!! And only to serve their own politics purposes, power purposes. Because the close presidential elections.

When you think of this movie, even long after seeing it, you may feel dizzy. You may puke on yourself. I am not proud to be a french citizen after watching this real gem.
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The truth will set you free?
kosmasp1 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
It's a very difficult topic, a political one. And of course who else to direct and star in it, then the La Haine director. He knows about controversy. And he doesn't shy away from painting a France, that is anything but nice. Of course politicians will generally be seen as evil, but this movie is based on real life events and you can imagine how this might have played out.

There are grey areas in the film, but you do get a lot of black&white moral decisions too. Even our main character is not flawless. He might seem one way, but you wonder if he could've gone or done some other things throughout the movie. The fact that you get a subtitle with each new day, lets you know that something is about to happen. So while it does seem inevitable, you still hope for something. Especially if you're not as familiar with what happened in 1988.

While the movie seems to lose a bit its tension after a third of its running time is over, it picks up right after that. Not everyones taste, but a drama that will leave you wonder how this could've happened 25 years ago? Which sort of answers my initial question! Though the title cards at the end suggest that there will be a vote for independence ... lets hope it'll happen in 2014 as it is/was announced
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Good historical drama
SnoopyStyle19 March 2014
It's April 22, 1988. Three or four gendarmes are dead and 30 kidnapped by Kanak separatists on the eve of the presidential election in France. They are sending in a platoon of 50 paras to New Caledonia. The PM sends in the Army to take control. There is a political competition between Mitterrand and Chirac, and everything is caught up in it. GIGN Captain Philippe Legorjus (Mathieu Kassovitz) and his men end up following the Army's orders. But soon they have to struggle against the army's barbaric tactics.

It's a good historical drama. It's a bit simplistic with the Army being all bad. I'm not familiar with any of this story to have an opinion about its validity. All I can say is that it works as a dramatic movie.
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New Caledonian Uprising!
spookyrat127 February 2019
This based-on-fact docu-drama about a 1988 hostage crisis in tropical French New Caledonia was apparently a pet project of some years prior for director/producer/writer and lead actor, Mathieu Kassovitz. In bringing the issue to the screen he bases the story around and himself plays, the chief gendarme GIGN Captain Philippe Legorjus, who with his unit and 300 French soldiers are sent out to quell an uprising occurring after local separatists took over a police station. In doing so the militant Kanaks killed four police officers and took hostages.

There is no doubting the film is extremely well made. The aerial footage of the Pacific islands and their oceanic surrounds is outstanding. Kassovitz has clearly attempted to frame his story around many of the known facts following the uprising, as a number of real life photos screened post credits attests to. In telling his story Kassovitz focuses tightly on investigative procedure as Legorius works to extract those captured, while doing to his best to avoid further angering locals sympathetic to the militants' causes.

However the focus on the procedure is too tight. This is a long film, which feels longer, arguably because of the insertion of too much in the way of procedural facts. We understand very early on that the army and police see very different solutions to an affair that is vexing their French political masters, who face a general election in the near future. We don't need continual repetition of the same sort of thematic details. What is surprisingly lacking in the film is any real backgrounding to the events leading up to the uprising. We only pick up random details from some of the supporting local Kanak characters, as the story plods slowly along in a countdown of days before a somewhat chaotic jungle battle, where the insurgent group are overpowered and suffer heavy casualties.

Kassovitz is unflinching in adopting Legorius's critical perspective of the affair. That's fair enough, it is his film. At the same time, in his portrayal, he does demonstrate that Legorius wasn't necessarily the most heroic and wise leader of his men. We do see him doing some really odd things for a commander of an elite police unit. It's not a great surprise, though unmentioned in the post credits information scroll, that he was essentially sacked from his job after collective pressure from his subordinates, on returning to France.

Rebellion is an admirable and sometime interesting offering from Kassovitz on the negative influence of French colonial power in the Pacific, but a good deal of judicious editing was needed to fashion a more involving and entertaining film. For those interested in a non-spoiler follow-up to this 2011 release, a referendum was held in 2018, which resulted in quite a comprehensive defeat for the pro-independence movement.
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Enjoyable, but biased and flawed
euroGary5 August 2013
'Rebellion' is an account of events in the French South Pacific territory of New Caledonia. In 1988 a group of indigenous New Caledonians storm a police station in the territory, killing some police officers and taking still more hostage. Events quickly become caught up with the Mitterand v Chirac presidential election and the Parisian police sent to New Caledonia to deal with the situation find the army have taken over the operation - and the military's methods of tying village chiefs to trees and beating up women are turning the local population even more against the French.

The military are portrayed as gun-totin' buffoons without a shred of humanity and the politicians as self-serving vote-seeking machines. On the other hand, the police are self-sacrificing good guys and the terrorists family-loving, intelligent, reasonable chaps just one step below sainthood. This is not an unbiased film! It is also difficult for those not versed in French politics of the late 1980s to follow everything, not least because the English-language sub-titles use acronyms instead of the full, descriptive names of various organisations. The close, hand-held camera-work used during the forest battle scenes gives a good feel of how it must be in those confusing, noisy situations - but also makes it difficult for the viewer to follow events. Overall I enjoyed the novelty of a film set in the modern(ish) South Pacific, but this is far from unflawed.
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"If truth hurts, lies will kill."
vjdino-376837 May 2020
Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. But already a few years later the ideals of the French revolution were reduced by Napoleonic despotism. In modern times, the downsizing took place on several occasions, see the Algerian war until its involvement in Libya. There is talk of realpolitik! Uncomfortable film, but not only for the French (understood as politicians), but for all (always politicians) belonging to the western democracies. Sinks the knife on the use of violence by politics in a cynical and hypocritical way, betraying the paragraph of this discussion. "If truth hurts, lies will kill." Films to be offered in schools during history!
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A different kind of hostage movie
nuijel30 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Rebellion is a good hostage movie. It presents a refreshing balanced view of what taking hostage means, which is not without reminding Dog Day Afternoon. Like it, it depicts real life hostage takers, not as dehumanized machiavellian bad guys, but as relatively ordinary people making bad decisions and the unravelling of violence it unleashes.

But where Dog Day Afternoon, as an American movie, focuses on individual responsibility, Rebellion focuses on the reaction of society and its flaws, and this is where I have problems with the movie. I am not very familiar with that particular historical event, but the director, in its eagerness to show that violence could have been avoided, seems to give a bit quickly absolution to the hostage takers. They killed 4 innocent and unarmed policemen? Well, they regret, so it's OK to not surrender and even take more hostages. They make realistic demands, such as: "state officially that we are not terrorists or we kill the hostages" (!!), and intend to exploit their crime mediatically. What can be wrong with that?
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