Film Club Review – The Battle of Algiers
The Battle of Algiers
I can imagine that when Battle of Algiers came out in 1966 it had a pretty big impact upon the filmmakers of that time. This Italian-made French film tells the story of the Algerian revolt against French occupation in the 1950’s. Pontecorvo really dances with the political lines and sympathies in this movie; on one hand he portrays the desperation and importance of fighting for freedom against oppressors, but at other times he almost seems to glorify the terrorist violence used to gain this freedom. Mind you, a movie like Braveheart, for example, does the same thing, only Scottish rebels aren’t quite as relevant as Islamic bombers, which is where the discomfort may come from.
But rather than delve into the politics, I’ll focus more on the film itself, which is really quite excellent. The films starts at the end, which immediately draws in the audience and gives them context as to where the characters are going to end up and leaving you wondering how they get there. We follow a few characters, most notably Ali Le Pointe, an Arab gunman for the resistance, and thee Colonel in charge of the French troops they are battling. Both are characters which are engaging every time they’re on screen.
The score for this movie is incredible. It manages to provide just the right energy for any particular scene, especially the military raid right at the beginning. The story also provides many tense and exciting scenes such as one where three women are sent out as bombers. The organization of the resistance movement and the intelligence gathering of the military also provide a lot of interesting details to this story which drew me in quite easily.
Not only is this an important film because it paved the way for all politically-motivated films to come after it, but it is also a strong and compelling story.