Short Plot Summary:
The Battle of Algiers is a 1966 war film based on occurrences during the Algerian War against The French Government in North Africa, the most prominent being the titular Battle of Algiers. It was directed by Gillo Pontecorvo.
“The Battle of Algiers” is a film made to look like documentary/news reel footage. It achieves this look so well that the emotions and anger it possesses probably come closer to the truth of its situation than any documentary could. All of its actors are non-professional and its budget was very low, but it still manages to speak more truths and bring you to re-evaluate your relationship with world events. The film is so powerful, yet so little of mainstream audiences have ever heard of it.
The films greatest point is made in a key scene involving a terrorist attack. After constant punishment and belittlement from the French army, a small group of Algerians decide to plant bombs in the French territory of Algiers. The saddest part about this is that the bombs are planted to kill innocent French civilians. A very strong dilemma is brought up here. We have just witnessed Algerians being killed innocently with no defence or ability to speak out at the hands of the French. However, just after this, we see innocent French live’s being taken at the hands of the Algerians. The bomb attack was made in protest of freedom, but at the same time adds to the overall horrors of the world, that is what this film shows us so well. Neither side in this film are seen as heros, both act in ways that are very violent and wrong, but also act in honourable ways to save innocent lives – however the overall picture is a very sad one.
The Gritty, independent photography in the film is very striking and extremely emotional in its realness. A huge battle sequence at the end looks so much like a real battle happening before our eyes, it was in fact 100% staged. This all works because of some very well planned depth of field staging and dramatic close-ups throughout the film. The film was banned in France upon its release for some years, this was due to political controversy, however during the Second Gulf War it was reportedly shown in the Pentagon on several occasions.
One more point I would like to make is on the films music by the great Ennio Morricone. The music is perfectly match with the film. It has a “marching” type feel with just the right amount of horror and isolation for the situation of the film. The film is extremely interesting and will evoke many emotions, but mainly it will ask who is in the wrong when it comes to war, it will show that even the most innocent of people can commit the most terrible acts.
Darrell Ron Tuffs
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- 1965: The Battle of Algiers (hidden1960s.wordpress.com)
- FILM REVIEW: The Battle of Algiers – Politics and the power of cinema (darrellwilliamsonfilm.wordpress.com)
- The Political Picture Show (urchinmovement.com)
- Reminder: Upcoming things (filmhistoryf13.wordpress.com)
- The Battle of Algiers and the Third Cinema Agenda (filmhistoryf13.wordpress.com)
- The Battle of Algiers (Pontecorvo, 1955) (purekinema.wordpress.com)
- A radical hard sell: Mira Nair’s ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ (3quarksdaily.com)
- Algeria torturer Paul Aussaresses dies (worldbulletin.net)
- Thinking Aloud: Paul Aussaresses, 1918-2013 (notwhatyoumightthink.wordpress.com)
- Gillo Pontecorvo’s “Kapo” (3quarksdaily.com)
One Reply to “The Battle Of Algiers (1966) – Gillo Pontecorvo”
(My previous comment was lost during a re-boot.)
I cannot praise this film highly enough. The atmosphere, tension, and stark reality make it feel almost like a dramatised documentary at times. This is an accurate and uncomfortable portrayal of one of the original ‘dirty wars’, during a period in the history of France and North Africa that is largely forgotten these days. Real edge of the seat stuff, with convincing performances from a marvellous cast, it is a real must-see, for any serious lover of cinema.
Without doubt, one of the best films featured on this site.
Thanks for including it Darrell. regards, Pete.