Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Battle of Algiers

Terrorism. Torture. Occupation. The tension between Islam and the West. There is not a more relevant film for this post 9/11 world we live in than director Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers. And, yet, this film was made forty-four years ago in 1966.

The Battle of Algiers documents the Algerian War of Independence against French colonial rule between 1954 and 1960. It depends heavily on non-actors of Algerian descent which director Pontecorvo demanded as a necessity in the "smell of truth" for his film. And it works. Ennio Morricone's score is, at times, so maddening that it provoked anxiety within me. Even though that's not very difficult to do - Morricone's soundtrack for this film works. The bombing scenes are so real that you can't help but wonder if actors were actually hurt in the process.

The film also does a great job of exploring the logic of violence from both the Algerian perspective as well as the French perspective, so much so that the film was criticized for portraying French Colonel Mathieu as too elegant and noble. The Battle of Algiers is an excellent and well-rounded film that is a necessity in understanding the world around us today.

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