Archive for April 28th, 2009


by Allan Fish

(Italy/France/Algeria 1965 121m) DVD1/2

Aka. Maarakat Alger/La Battaglia di Algeri

You don’t win battles with outrages

p  Antonio Musu, Yacef Saadi  d  Gillo Pontecorvo  Franco Solinas  ph  Marcello Gatti  ed  Mario Serandrei, Mario Morra  m  Ennio Morricone, Gillo Pontecorvo 

Brahim Hagiag (Ali la Pointe), Jean Martin (Colonel Mathieu), Yacef Saadi (Kader), Tomasso Neri (Captain Dubois), Fawzia el Kader (Halima), Michele Kerbash (Fathia), Mohamed Ben Kassen (Little Omar),

Among the fearsome mountain range that is political cinema, there is one peak that stands tall above all others.  For sure, such classics as The Manchurian Candidate, Memories of Underdevelopment, Z, and any one of a handful of Andrzej Wajda films have their merits as peaks, but the zenith of this artform within an artform came in 1965 with Gillo Pontecorvo’s still seminal masterpiece.  The Battle of Algiers is a political film unlike any dreamt of by Hollywood, and is all the better for it.

            Pontecorvo’s film begins in 1957, with a captured Algerian resistance member forced to give up the hiding place of the last of the leaders of the National Liberation Front of Algeria (FLN).  Paratroopers storm the hideout and threaten the leader, Ali la Pointe, with death for both him and his family trapped with him unless he surrenders.  At which point we go back three years to 1954 and the first signs of rebellion in Algiers and follow the leaders of both the colonialists and revolutionaries, up until that fateful moment when the last member of the FLN is wiped out.  Almost as an afterthought, we are shown the final uprisings of 1960 that finally lead to the declaration of their independence in 1962. (more…)

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