Banlieue 13

Needless to say, the clip of Banlieue 13 that was presented in class definitely caught my interest and I decided that I wanted to explore this film a little further. I found the first ten minutes of the film (some of which we watched in class–the panning views of the banlieue and the title) with English subtitles. I found it interesting that the villainous character was going to write his phone number on the side of a building, giving no remorse or thought to his graffiti. The gaurds outside of this building threaten him to cease, and the villianous man calls the gaurds’ boss something to the effect of “Mr. Clean” Then, when arriving inside the building, this main is surprised and remarks that “for once, there is an elevator that works.” Although this film was not shot in Paris (or even in France), these details all play into the point that the banlieue is seen as run-down and decrepit.

Banlieue 13

In our class lecture, it was briefly mentioned that David Belle (who plays Leïto) is the creator of Parkour. Parkour is” a method of movement focused on moving around obstacles with speed and efficiency” developed in France (Wikipedia). Traceurs (parkour practitioners) train to be able to identify and utilize alternate or the more efficient paths. For this reason, I can understand why the makers of Banlieue 13 incorporated parkour into their film. There is an amazing Parkour scene towards the end of the clip I shared. Also on wikipedia is a list of parkour moves and terms:


3 thoughts on “Banlieue 13”

  1. Ngozi’s comment regarding the juxtaposition between Parkour’s quite, strategic movements and the inefficient transportation in banlieues made me wonder if there was more to this observation. In a website that lists top Parkour moments in flim (whether it be movies or commercial), there introduction to the page has a quote from David Belle, the Parkour creator that I referenced earlier. He states, You want to move in such a way…as to help you gain the most ground on…something, whether escaping from it or chasing toward it.” Perhaps, other than the entertaining quality Parkour seems to possess, Banlieue 13 uses Parkour to describe both. Instead of accomodating to the burden of sluggish travel, people of the Banlieue must take their transportation into their own hands and become responsible for it. They are running from the half-hearted structures created for them and towards new, self-created methods to overcome the burdens of the banlieue.
    He could be running from the oppression the banlieue has created while chasing the promise of an improved future.

    Here is the link. Not only is the description to the page useful, but I never seem to tire of the remarkable Parkour moves and film clips.

  2. The Banlieue 13 scene we saw in class is actually the opening scene of the sequel (_Banlieue 13-Ultimatum_) of the first _Banlieue 13_, to which Becky is referring.
    The first “episode” is somehow more “local” (tensions between drug dealers) and dramatizes the tension between Paris and the suburbs: there is a bomb involved, and all the plot revolves around the place where the bomb might explode – Paris or the Suburbs?). In the sequel, it is still about destroying the suburbs (with plane bombing this time), but the political aspect is reinforced (alliances between the police and the military to seize power, against the multi-ethnic Banlieues and a naive French President).
    Also, remember that the “Parkour” is also a technic of escape, and also a philosophy (David Belle talks about it in interviews, available on You Tube). If you end up watching the film, pay attention to the way the camera is also moving according to the parkour principles. There has been a parkour workshop here at Duke at the beginning of the semester: did anyone participate?

  3. Like Becky, I find it very interesting that the producers of Banlieue 13 decided to incorporate parkour into their film. Parkour, a speedy, effective means of transportation directly contrasts the sluggish, inefficient transportation notorious in French banlieues. A common complaint of banlieues inhabitants is the lengthy commute to French cities. Many banlieue workers commute more than two hours a day to jobs with inadequate wages; thus unemployment runs rampant in these communities.

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