Film, Mathieu Kassovitz, New Caledonia, Rebellion

Rebellion by Mathieu Kassovitz, a modern day Apocalypse Now


2011 Mathieu Kassovitz

Wasn’t aware of this movie when it came out. By the guy who directed La Haine, which was great, and rather disturbingly nearly 20 years ago now. Kassovitz directs and plays the lead in this one.


From the beginning of the movie they quite clearly state things are not going to end well. This is no plot spoiler. The film begins with the main protagonist, sitting there with his head in his hands asking how did it all end this way. He’s in the jungle, dirty, haggard  and looking in a bad way.

From there the story unfolds as a series of flash backs, going back 10 days to the point where the story unfolds. I made a point of not reading the back of the dvd box,  to not prejudice my experience of the film. As it went on, it felt more and more like a real story. This was no gung ho war movie. You weren’t quite sure what was going to happen, but the atmosphere and tension grew as the days passed.

The jungle scenes were spectacular, with a real sense of oppression, gloom and foreboding. More and more this seemed to echo the vibe of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, “The horror, the horror”. A novel which also uses the word dark, and darkness so many times it’s almost like a mantra. Apocalypse Now is of course derived from this source material, with a kicking sound track, and a spectacular range of actors performing in it. Rebellion, with it’s cutting in and out of sound, dull thwumping noises when they ride in almost soundless helicopter scenes, creates a real sense of atmosphere. You know it’s probably going to end badly. For someone, if not all of them.

It is set in New Caledonia, and the scenery is spectacular. Afterwards I had to know where it was filmed. Turns out it was filmed in Tahiti, so I guess we have to say it is Tahiti that looks amazing. Either way it still adds to the look, feel and sound of the movie.

The longer the movie goes on, the more things get mired in the intricacies of French presidential politics circa 1988. For me it was gripping, and, having just been offered 3 months, immediate emergency work in Sudan, a reminder of the extreme danger of undertaking humanitarian work in conflict points around the world. It might seem exotic and dashing to fly off to the latest global crisis flash point. The reality is that you will often be dealing with inexperienced, possibly even child soldiers, holding seriously powerful weapons with extremely twitchy trigger fingers.

Without wanting to spoil the story, this is the sense that the movie captures. It is tense, stylish, and captures the messiness of rich western countries politics spilling over and affecting the lives of much poorer people on other sides of the planet. The story is told well and I’d recommend watching it!



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