Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Indiewire logo

"Battle of Algiers" Revived on 50 Year Anni of Algerian Independence

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik July 10, 2012 at 10:07AM

If you haven't seen Gilles Pontocorvo's 1966 classic "The Battle of Algiers"--or it's been a while since you've seen it--I can't think of a better film that resonates with America's 21st Century state of perpetual war. See it in its final days at New York's Film Forum this week. I recently called the movie one of the top three politically effective films ever made.
0

If you haven't seen Gilles Pontocorvo's 1966 classic "The Battle of Algiers"--or it's been a while since you've seen it--I can't think of a better film that resonates with America's 21st Century state of perpetual war. See it in its final days at New York's Film Forum this week. I recently called the movie one of the top three politically effective films ever made.

battle of algiers

Guerrilla filmmaking, par excellence, the film employs an urgent, verite-style cinematography, on the labyrinthine streets of the Algerian capital, to tell its story about Algerian freedom fighters and their violent attempts to liberate their country from colonial rule--and the French military's brutally horrific attempts to stop them. The film's torture scenes--with blowtorches, electric shocks and partial drowning (initially censored from the film's initial release in Britain and the U.S.)--are harrowing reminders of the "enhanced interrogation techniques" still being defended by some American politicians. (See Dick Cheney's last book.)

"The Battle of Algiers" shows the horrible cycle of escalating violence in such conflicts, and it's one compelling yarn, with an absorbing cast of nonprofessional actors and a powerful immediacy that grabs the viewer.

And I'm not the only who thinks the film is relevant. Even The Pentagon would agree: In 2003, if you remember, they held a screening of the film as an illustration of the problems facing the U.S.'s intervention in Iraq.

According to the New York Times, a flier for the screening read: "How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film."

More than 45 years after "The Battle of Algiers" was released, it seems, we still don't understand.

Follow us

E-Mail Updates



Recent Comments

By Tony: I saw this with my girlfriend. She was completely taken in by it. This movie is no better than a soap opera. Absolute drivel, pandering to…

Can Tearjerking Doc "The Hunting Ground" Change Colleges' Sexual Assault Policies?

Jan 28th, 2015 1:03am

By Joe Britz: While rape is a horrible crime, it doesn't mean we simply toss Blackstone out the window. The foundation of our justice system is innocent…

Can Tearjerking Doc "The Hunting Ground" Change Colleges' Sexual Assault Policies?

Jan 28th, 2015 12:31am

By Amelia: It reminds me of the Dark Ages, where people would accuse a woman of being a Witch and everybody would simply believe the accusation because…

Can Tearjerking Doc "The Hunting Ground" Change Colleges' Sexual Assault Policies?

Jan 27th, 2015 3:25pm

By Joe: There is no rape culture. Rape is a sickening and illegal act but apparently there are some who want to return to the old fashioned lynch mob…

Can Tearjerking Doc "The Hunting Ground" Change Colleges' Sexual Assault Policies?

Jan 27th, 2015 1:31pm

By roosevelto: I think that this movie is many things, one of those is political. Even if we suppose that it wasn't Afflec's intention, when has become…

"Argo" Reconsidered: Ben Affleck is a Right-Wing Propagandist

Jan 16th, 2015 5:08pm

By roosevelto: I watched the movie with the most naive eyes possible. I said to myself, don't care about facts, don't care about propaganda, don't care abou…

"Argo" Reconsidered: Ben Affleck is a Right-Wing Propagandist

Jan 16th, 2015 4:53pm

By Anthony Kaufman: "The Look of Silence" will definitely be on next year's list! It hasn't opened in the U.S. yet.

The Top 12 Documentaries of 2014

Jan 3rd, 2015 1:09pm