Friday, February 10, 2006

Film The Battle of Algiers (La Battaglia di Algeri; Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966)

As part of the Winter 2006 Film Series at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, I saw a new 35mm print of the classic The Battle of Algiers. It is a film I've been wanting to see and this was my first opportunity. This neorealistic film is shot in documentary style with mostly everyday people instead of actors, and depicts the decade leading up to Algeria's independence from France after more than 130 years.

The film is a powerful portrayal of the savagery of urban warfare and the means, including torture and bombing of civilian establishments, that colonialists as well as those seeking their independence use to achieve what each is convinced is justified for their ends. The scenes of the narrow streets of the Kasbah and the determination of both sides kept the film interesting, made all the more so because it is a dramatized documentary.

The film revealed my ignorance about Algerian history, and I left wondering what kind of government the country now has. I did a little bit of research and found that its post-colonial history is not a happy one, marked by the mass exodus of over a million people during a civil war and the establishment of military rule.

Links of interest:

Map from


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