A film commissioned by the Algerian government that shows the Algerian revolution from both sides. The French foreign legion has left Vietnam in defeat and has something to prove. The Algerians are seeking independence. The two clash. The torture used by the French is contrasted with the Algerian's use of bombs in soda shops. A look at war as a nasty thing that harms and sullies everyone who participates in it. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
Film critics and historians have identified this film as one of the first to depict North Africans as complex and fully-developed characters. Historians have argued that previous films had largely included North Africans as little more than part of the backdrop or scenery; this film, in contrast, dealt with them as people. See more »
Early on in the film when a man is being escorted to the guillotine in an Algiers prison, there is a cut from a long shot of the courtyard to a close-up and two men wearing suits suddenly appear by the guillotine even though there is no door nearby through which they could have emerged. See more »
To know them means to eliminate them. Consequently, the military aspect is secondary to the police method.
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Great war movie? Yes---and maybe the best POLITICAL movie ever.
I wish I could locate a videocassette of this film--subtitled, not dubbed. The first time I saw it, I was a little put off by what I thought was a pompous disclaimer that "not one foot" of documentary footage had been used. But, in light of the finished product, it's a remarkable statement. If a film has better captured the harsh and ugly realities that are an inevitable part of a true revolutionary movement, I never saw it. It is greatly to its credit that one never gets a sense of "good guys vs. bad guys" here--only of people trapped in a truly impossible set of circumstances, from which no escape is possible without confrontation and bloodshed. It was depressing to see this movie in Berkeley in the early 70s, and hear the audience cheer the "heroic" Algerian revolutionaries while booing the "villainous" French, in view of the great pains that had been taken to present a balanced viewpoint. This film is thrilling, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and beautiful--sometimes by turns and sometimes all at once. If you haven't seen it and it show up anywhere in the vicinityh, drop everything and go--and pray that it's subtitled and not dubbed. (There are dubbed prints and, as is usually the case, dubbing pretty nearly wrecks it.) This is a masterpiece.
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