The Monopoly of Violence, by The New York Times

Par David Dufresne, 12 février 2022 | 205 Lectures

‘The Monopoly of Violence’

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On paper, the “The Monopoly of Violence” sounds hopelessly idealistic. David Dufresne’s documentary assembles a variety of French citizens — historians, scholars, politicians, cops, protesters — in small, one-on-one conversations about police brutality, while videos from the country’s Yellow Vest demonstrations are projected on a large screen. But rather than indulge in bland both-sides-ism or navel-gazing, Dufresne’s whip-smart film uses the power of images to provoke the kind of dialogue that seems rare in contemporary society.

The through line of these discussions is the German sociologist Max Weber’s claim that the state exercises power by claiming “the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical violence.” The documentary asks, is this one-sided right to use force indeed legitimate ? The film’s interlocutors bring a whole range of experiences — theoretical, lived, official, colloquial — to this question, and Dufresne’s radical gesture is to give them all equal weight. We are invited to consider theorists’ analytical insights into the historical flaws of French democracy alongside the rousing, emotional testimonies of the victims of police violence, some of whom bear permanent injuries. Revisiting images of their brutalization, these victims impart the real sense of grief, betrayal and desperation that undergirds protest.

The Monopoly of Violence

​’Monopoly Of Violence’ scoops top prizes at Unifrance’s MyFrenchFilmFestival | News | Screen

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