Wednesday, April 20, 2011

047 - The Battle Of Algiers (1966)

DVD Box
The Battle Of Algiers is a dramatised documentary telling of the war in the Algerian capital between the French colonialists and the Arab insurgents.

It reconstructs the events that happened between 1954 and 1960, from the forming of the National Liberation Front (FLN) until the capture and killing of its final members.

As the film goes on, each side uses greater acts of violence, escalating from drive-by shootings to cafe bombings.

The French army struggle to convince the Algerian people that they are doing the best for them, and further struggle to find and capture the FLN because they are so loosely connected to one another.

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
The Battle Of Algiers is not designed to be a film of entertainment. It was commissioned by the Algerian Government in 1966 to be an equal sided telling of the revolution in its capital in the few years previous.

In the most part, this objective view is kept up; the film shows the brutality of the French army where they use "any means necessary" to get information from captured Algerians while also showing how the Algerians were prepared to use their women and children as a method to fight their battle, with women carrying bombs to their destination and children beating up drunken men. The lack of bias from a political film shot so soon after the events should be commended.

Of course, having a dramatic licence means that the audience should not confuse this film with being an actual documentary. As far as I am aware no footage of the event was used - though the final scenes do look remarkably real. The passion in the faces is extraordinary, so if it is all 100% reshot footage then this is impressive in itself.

With a political film comes political backlash against it. Much of this film was cut by the US, UK and especially France just after its release; claiming that the Algerians that served in the French army were not fairly represented. This is true, but this would be the only hiccough in an otherwise outstanding piece of objective political film-making.

Recommended, but not for entertainment.

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