Saturday, January 19, 2008

Must See Film: The Battle of Algiers

It's not too often that I assign I required viewing, but this film is worthy of making it an assignment for StrangeCulture readers.

The Battle of Algiers (Battaglia di Algeri, La) is a movie that came out over 40-years ago, first showing in the US in 1967, directed by Italian film maker Gillo Pontecorvo.

This film deals with the Algerian war against the French Colonist (1854-1962). The war was fought between the French colonial power and the National Liberation Front (FLN).

The majority of the story takes place in the Casbah of Algiers and focuses on the Arab Nationalist trying to be freed from the French colonial power. Yet, while the film focuses on these Arab extremist, the film does not necessarily suggest that they are in the right, and the French are in the wrong. In fact, there's no clear good guy/bad guy relationship in the film, namely because you see crimes and justice compromised on both sides.

There is some harrowing scenes where you see the French using torture tactics, and the FLN extremist starting terrorist cells that bring about civilian causalities all in the name of freedom and liberation.

I strongly recommend this film for three reasons.

(1) Entertainment Value: You will enjoy this film. It's plot is not so far off from what makes up the system of story-telling that you'd find in Alias, 24, or Jason Bourne film. The opening sequence begins with a man being tortured and giving up valuable information. Shortly afterwards the story flashes back to years earlier as the story is neatly and suspensefully unpacked, with action and special effects gallore.

(2) Relevancy To History and Current Events: I've discussed to some degree previously about the ideas of extraordinary rendition and torture as it relates to entertainment and politics. This film opens up ideas on torture for sure. It also deals strongly with the concepts of terrorism and elevation of terrorist acts, specifically as they relate to the Muslim world. As we live in a world that is currently fighting a "War on Terror" I can think of know single film I've seen that open up and unpacks these ideas better the Battle of Algiers. While the film deals directly in a documentary-like presentation of the real events of Algieria's liberation it also deals so poignantly about these other topics that are still relevant today. Also, this film paints such an interesting picture of what was going on in Africa post-WWII. This film speaks far more volumes than simply telling the story of terrorist/liberator/criminal/hero Ali La Pointe.

(3) Fantastic Film Making: Everything in this film is first rate. The special effects of the bombings look so real, the way the camera grabs the faces and expressions of the actors makes the characters seem so real, the music by always talented Ennio Morricone is perfect, and pacing and feel are great. But more than that, it all just seems so real. You would think you were watching real footage of the actual events when you're watching this film. There is nothing that seems staged, it just all fits together so perfectly.

If you haven't seen this movie, it's a must watch film. I wish there were more films like this.


Barry said...

I have my Oscar predictions up right now =) They may be subject to change over the next few days because I'm still iffy on some of the nods.

Anonymous said...

I'm really glad you mentioned the entertainment value. I've had Battle of Algiers on my to-see list for some time, but for some reason was afraid that it would be one of those masterpieces that I'd admire but have to sort of suffer through watching. After reading your post, I'm looking forward to experiencing it a lot more!

The Obenson Report said...

Yes, an excellent, must-see film, and still quite temporally apropos today.


Terence Towles Canote said...

The Battle of Algiers is definitely must see viewing. Truly one of the great films of the Sixties.

Glenn Dunks said...

Yes! Such a great movie.

And it's as thrilling as it is harrowing.

Heather said...

Thanks for the heads up -- I've added it to my Netflix queue, so I don't forget about it. :)

Anonymous said...

I've had this recommended to me by my friend that's "in the biz." Been wanting to see it for a long time. I'll have to move it up in the queue. Plus I LOVE Morricone.

Anonymous said...

Excellent movie. One of the most powerful I've seen. You can't watch it just once.