In 1988, a group of indigenous Kanaks storms a police station on Ouvea, one of the Pacific islands that make up New Caledonia, officially a French territory, killing four gendarmes and taking twenty hostage. A team of elite police from the GIGN (Intervention Group), led by specialist negotiator Capitaine Legorjus (Mathieu Kassovitz), flies to the islands but, by the time they arrive, the mission has been given to the army who have orders to end the uprising quickly, using any means - the French presidential elections are underway, and neither of the competing candidates - Jaques Chirac and Francois Mitterand - wants to look weak.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The French title of this film, Order and Morality, is an ironic statement by filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz; these are words from the mouth of a French politician who like his peers, wants a politically satisfactory solution to a conflict, regardless of the cost in human lives. The issues canvassed here make the film universally relevant, through the particulars of the violent incident in 1988, when Kanaks attacked a New Caledonian police station.
Much more complex than fiction, this fact based drama explores the deep fractures within the French command over its response.
To understand what Kassovitz wants to say, we need to consider this, from his notes to the film as to what touched him most about the story: "How politicians are prepared to sacrifice hostages if it serves their interests. How there is an obvious lack of respect, dialogue and, in a word, intelligence. It resonates with me because, to a lesser extent, it's exactly what's happening in the inner cities. Also, the story has a universal aspect that I find compelling. The way people's resources are pillaged while laws and rules are imposed on them that cannot work in their culture."
Superbly made in every respect, Rebellion is both a tragic indictment of the French politicians and the army command at the time, as well as a carefully researched document, based in part on the book by the man at the centre of the story, Capitaine Legorjus played with great verve by Kassovitz. Performances are striking and the combat scenes extraordinarily effective.
It has taken Kassovitz several years to get the consent of the families of the Kanaks killed in 1988 before he made the film. But it's timely, since the independence referendum in New Caledonia is to be held in 2014.
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L'ordre et la morale
CAST: Mathieu Kassovitz, Iabe Lapacas, Malik Zidi , Alexandre Steiger, Daniel Martin, Philippe Torreton, Sylvie Testud, Steeve Une, Philippe de Jacquelin Dulphé
PRODUCER: Mathieu Kassovitz, Christoph Rossignon
DIRECTOR: Mathieu Kassovitz
SCRIPT: Pierre Geller, Mathieu Kassovitz, Benoit Jaubert (novel La morale et l'action by Philippe Legorjus)
EDITOR: Mathieu Kassovitz, Lionel Devuyst, Thomas Beard
MUSIC: Klaus Badelt
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Brune Coupe, Emmanuelle Cuillery, Giusseppe Ponturo
RUNNING TIME: 129 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Jump Street Films
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 12, 2012