13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
The battle for hearts and minds,
This review is from: The Battle Of Algiers (Special Edition) [DVD]  (DVD)
The film is a remarkably balanced portrayal of the initiation and development of a street thug Ali La Pointe as he is taken up into the FLN movement.We see the terror on both sides,of the State's institutional aggression-guillotine,torture,bombs,curfews,checkpoints,searches, and the random bombing of civilian areas,the random shootings of civilans and police in the streets by the FLN recruits. The mobilization of crowd scenes is very effective,the documentary approach to the subject matter where key moments,e.g. `the milk-bar killings',the quelling of popular uprisings, are reconstructed or there is insertion of documentary news footage,make this film a vital historical document by a major film maker.
Mathieu,the Colonel of the paratroopers, uses methods he learned in the Resistamce of France against the Nazis. He fails to see that the Germans occupied France as the French are occupying Algeria,the FLN (the Algerian National Liberation Front) are similarly a resistance movement designed to overcome the unjust occupation of Algeria by a colonial power.Both sides use equally cruel methods,but rebellion leading to popular uprisings on a national scale are hard to overcome. The decline of colonialism is on the rise and the French have already met their Waterloo at Dien Bien Phu.The French have in the name of civilization exploited Algeria for 150 years but without benefitting the native Arabs,who do not gain access to jobs or education.The time has come for Algeria to become an independent nation.
This black and white film using people involved in the Algerian resistance,non acting natives and one or two professional actors made a timeless template for the growth of resistance movements,the rise of terrorism,the attack against civilians in modern warfare in 20th century.This ranks as one of the 2 or 3 best black and white films of all time,including The Gospel According to St.Matthew and Paths of Glory.The vividly realistic dramatization of political events in the actual locations where they occurred in the Casbah, and the avenues of the French quarter,with such intimate immediacy has never been bettered.The acting of Mathieu(Martin)as a hero of charismatic proportions, gives a rational voice to French colonialists and is superbly done and gives a balance to the film,only the system he represents is of a power now ebbing away.This film still speaks with an amazing force, 35 years after I first saw it.You could say the French won this battle but they did not win the war.
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Initial post: 25 Feb 2010 02:35:16 GMT
Agree with your review unreservedly, but would just include The Third Man in your choices of world-beating B&W films.
That's a minor quibble. This is one of the most extraordinary visceral films ever made. Should be compulsory for all students of the post-imperial age.
In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jun 2011 10:45:59 BDT
I think that rather than "Paths of Glory" he meant "Days of Glory" another French film of equal calibre. "Paths" stars Kirk Douglas... enough said..
Posted on 3 Dec 2012 11:04:07 GMT
Benjamin Girth says:
Good review - I live in France and you can still see the war in the local cemeteries. But what people forget it was also a CIVIL WAR. And post liberation the blood has continued to flow on a huge scale.
You might enjoy "Intimate Enemies" (the Algerian war in the mountains set in 1959 - as brutal and intense as the urban conflict). The World War II film "Days of Glory" is also worth viewing.
I read Martin Evan's recent book "Algeria - France's Undeclared War" which is an excellent 'one stop' history that made me keen to read more. For me this war went far beyond France and Algeria not least Vietnam. But also consider how Tunisia and Morocco were given independence (which Martin Evans' does not).
In reply to an earlier post on 23 Aug 2013 11:25:55 BDT
Thanks for your comments.I'll look up "Intimate Enemies".I'm now reading Alistair Horne's "A Savage War of Peace"(Algeria 1954-62),which is supposed to be the best book on the subject.The book says
that Tunisia and Morocco were protectorates,which is why they were 1st given their independence,but
France yet fought on in Algeria,because it was seen more intimately as part of France,"Ici, C'est La France".Incidently Tunisia and Morocco were havens for the FLN colonels and politicos,where they escaped to have many meetings or discussions of policy.
There were civil wars,coups,attempted coups in France over the matter
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