Caché (Hidden)

hiddenLast night, I watched a very powerful film, which, to me, is an allegory on France’s colonial guilt: Caché (Hidden). I learnt about the 17 October 1961 massacre, during which the French police killed between 200 and 300 Algerians during a peaceful demonstration in Paris. Dozens were thrown into the Seine river, others died while in detention.
There is so much that happened in French history that we were never taught at school, particularly the less glorious episodes of the war with Algeria, and I’m very grateful to directors and writers for educating me. I normally use a quick message on Twitter to share a movie or a book I particularly enjoyed, but this one was so powerful that I felt like mentioning it on my blog as well. Have any of you seen it?

By |2016-10-18T15:49:17+00:00January 28th, 2009|Culture|7 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. philosoraptor January 29, 2009 at 12:20 am

    Yes, I have. Hard to discuss without maybe revealing plot spoilers, but I’d love to discuss it. It’s the sort of film I’ll probably need to see once or twice more, just to have a chance at figuring it out!

  2. Charlotte January 29, 2009 at 9:51 am

    I have seen it and I really liked it, even though it is very strange and leaves you with a strange feeling of voyeurism (probably because of the way the film is shot).
    I was taught in France about the massacre of Sétif (1945) and other atrocities of the French in the 60s, like the “incident du métro Charonne” (1962). It looks very strange to me that your teachers did not tell you about this part of French history! In my lycée, it was taught in “première” and “terminale”.
    I also liked the film “Indigènes”.
    At l(e)ast, France is starting to reflect on its dark hours.

  3. céline January 29, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Maybe it did come up in a lesson and I wasn’t listening. I do remember being taught about the war with Algeria, of course, but definitely not about this particular tragedy.
    The film didn’t leave me with a feeling of voyeurism, but I felt incredibly uneasy, as if I had been in touch with very strong, contradicting emotions and couldn’t quite reconcile everything. I think it portrayed beautifully the guilt and denial of France and the pain and sorry of Algeria. And finished with a scene full of hope. Such a rich film!

  4. philosoraptor January 29, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Okay, if spoilers are allowed, then…
    One of my colleagues/friends who saw the movie is convinced that Georges (the Daniel Auteuil character) was having the videotapes made and then sent to his own home. Who did you think was sending the videotapes to Georges and Anne?

  5. céline January 29, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Well. Like I said in my post, I’m seeing this film as an allegory. George is the French people that feel guilt and denial towards the Algerian people, his wife represents the French people who don’t really know (or don’t really want to know) what happened, Majid is the Algerian people in the 50s and early 60s, who suffered enormously at the hands of the French, and the two sons are today’s generation.
    So in this reading of the film, nobody sends the tapes. The tapes are George’s subconscious, or his feelings of guilt, that won’t leave him alone and are trying to force him to confront what he (France) did.
    What did you think?

  6. Helen January 30, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Hi Céline,
    I’ve never seen that film but I must get it on DVD, it sounds fascinating.
    When I did my translation MA, I translated some stories by Franco-Algerian writer Leila Sebbar. She has written a book about the tragic events of October 17, 1961. It’s called ‘La Seine était rouge’. It’s very moving.
    Bon weekend!

  7. philosoraptor February 13, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Sorry for being away for several days… I agree that the film can be seen as an allegory of Algeria/France in the 1950s and 1960s. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the objects in the film aren’t — at the same time — real within the context of the film. But then again, I’m extremely bad at film analysis and film criticism!

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