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The Battle of Algiers (1966)

La battaglia di Algeri (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, War | 20 September 1967 (USA)
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In the 1950s, fear and violence escalate as the people of Algiers fight for independence from the French government.

Director:

Gillo Pontecorvo

Writers:

Franco Solinas, Franco Solinas (story) (as F. Solinas) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jean Martin ... Col. Mathieu
Yacef Saadi Yacef Saadi ... Djafar (as Saadi Yacef)
Brahim Hadjadj ... Ali La Pointe (as Brahim Haggiag)
Tommaso Neri Tommaso Neri ... Captain
Samia Kerbash Samia Kerbash ... Fathia
Ugo Paletti Ugo Paletti ... Captain
Fusia El Kader Fusia El Kader ... Halima
Franco Moruzzi Franco Moruzzi ... (as Franco Morici)
Mohamed Ben Kassen Mohamed Ben Kassen ... Petit Omar
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Storyline

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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Revolt that Stirred the World! See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Italy | Algeria

Language:

French | Arabic | English

Release Date:

20 September 1967 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Battle of Algiers See more »

Filming Locations:

Algeria See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$800,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$64,870, 11 January 2004, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$55,908, 6 January 2017
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Casbah Film, Igor Film See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although the mass scenes look spontaneous, it took quite some planning to make them look that way. Director Gillo Pontecorvo would often draw chalk lines on the ground, dividing the mass in separate groups which had to start walking on cue in order to get proper crowd movement. He also used multiple cameras at a time and used footage from different angles to create the impression that crowds were much larger than they were in reality. See more »

Goofs

In the final scenes of the film, showing the mass street protests, the French police are backed up by armored vehicles that are, in fact, Soviet-made SU-100 tank destroyers. These were part of the Algerian military when the film was made in 1966 after independence, but would not have been present or used by the French at any time. See more »

Quotes

Journalist: The law's often inconvenient, Colonel.
Col. Mathieu: And those who explode bombs in public places, do they respect the law perhaps? When you put that question to Ben M'Hidi, remember what he said?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The 100 Greatest War Films (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

St. Matthew Passion BWV 244, 1st movement
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An unforgettable study of occupation and defeat.
13 May 2004 | by jdesandoSee all my reviews

In 1962 after more than 130 years of French colonial rule, Algeria became independent. Gillo Pontecorvo's `Algiers' shows the decade leading to that liberation in a powerful story about Muslims asserting their rights through violence, hiding, and plotting in the Kasbah, a demiworld of narrow, winding, seemingly endless alleys that are the only protection the rebels have from the eyes of the French. The re-release of the 1965 black and white film is a convincing story of a people who do not want to be occupied and will give their lives so their families can one day be free.

The story centers on a couple of Muslim leaders, the charismatic Col. of the French forces, and the bombings and shootouts that at one point averaged just over 4 per day. The film's sympathy is for the Muslims, but the Colonel has moments of reflection that could be sympathetic, especially with the revelation that he was a member of the resistance in WWII and may have suffered in a concentration camp. The director shows the influence of Italian neo-realists like Roberto Rossellini (`Paisan') by shooting in documentary style on location, using non-actors (except for the Colonel), and generally avoiding an agitprop angle.

But the film's sympathy in the end belongs to the occupied people. When 3 rebel women change appearance to look French, infiltrate, and plant bombs, the irony obvious to American audiences in their current struggle is a tribute to the strength of the narration and characterization and the universal dislike of occupation and subjugation.

The torture of the Muslim prisoners is the most poignant relevance to the recent scandal in Iraq. The Colonel's justification for the practice to gain life-saving information is classic `ends-justify-the-means' logic still being used by great nations. In fact, the Pentagon reportedly had seen this film during the first days of the second Iraq War; some say they learned nothing from the film, which is an unforgettable study of occupation and defeat.


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