The title can mislead :it's not a chronicle of American music invasion in old -fashioned France ,although the soundtrack includes "hit the road Jack" ," let's twist again" "Be bop a Lula " and more.
It takes place in a small town of Algeria ,in the two last years of the colonial war ;from January 1960 to the Evian agreement and the independence ( on the 3rd of July,1962)via the self- determination referendum and the generals putsch).The director does not really depict history with a capital H ,but the footnotes of history ,some kind of tongue in cheek Algerian "Chagrin Et La Pitié " in miniature .He displays a formidable sense of humor,an iconoclasm and a sense of mockery which hit home.
Boualem and Sahah ,two would be heroes want to join the FLN - National Liberation Front"- ,the rebels who fight in the mountains,much to their parents' fear who are afraid their offspring may be injured among those rebels ;they steal oranges (these best oranges are exported to France,they say as an excuse) ,they even drink wine (milk ,eh?);Boualem takes part in a Radio-Crochet (song contest)and performs " Ya Moustafa" -a big hit in the early sixties in France!- in front of big RF (French Republic);during the "Algerie Musulmane "demonstration ,dad has this immortal line: "they're already 300,they needn't me!";during the demonstration ,Sahal becomes a " martyr" :an injured thumb "someone walked on my finger" says he;as for their "political" attack,it 's only to make off with the contents of the merchants' till;but the best scene occurs when Boualem,who has joined the army (fighters who turn up when the work is almost over),acts as if he's never met his friend and demands his papers ("not in order" he says ,"you are no longer French")
Two French actors appear :Jacques Villeret ,who was a private in Boisset's RAS (1973) was promoted and is called "Commandant" or "M'Sieur John Wayne);Zemmouri depicts a caricature of soldiers:the torture scene is not what the viewer expects ;while the radio talks about the putsch,Boualem's parents are watching a western and the soldiers are busy touching girls up. Richard Bohringer is a planter who represents the wealthy Pieds Noirs (French colonial born in Algeria) .
Treating a serious subject as a comedy,nay a farce, Zemmouri wanted to show that "any cause,as just as it can be ,spawns scheming,cowardice,fright and treason"(Christian Bosséno,Saison Cinématographique 1986);the movie opens with war noises (machine guns ,helicopters) and twisting songs;its final lines parody the "serious" things which happen after the end of the movie.
Boualem dreams of joining the heroes,but his idols remain Elvis Presley (whose hairdo he copies in the song contest) and Brigitte Bardot on the walls of his room.
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