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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An historian writing about the Algerian war against the French colonial authorities entitled his book "A Savage War of Peace". "The Battle of Algiers" provides many answers to that enigmatic title. It does not attempt to show us the entire war but centers on the city of Algiers. Even though you are told at the beginning that no documentary footage is used it is at times hard to believe as many of the images you see have a stark and often unsettling reality to them. Considering that this was a co production between Algeria and Italy the film is remarkable in that it does not turn itself a political tirade by taking sides. Instead the camera is a sort of neutral observer allowing us to witness events that spiraled from individual demonstrations to a full scale war of savage intensity. French officers who fought the Nazis a few years before degenerated into the mode of their former enemy while Algerians had no problems exploding bombs that would kill their own people. The camera shows no heros or villains but humanity in its darkest forms. This is a powerful film with superb direction and cinematography. It truly is one of a kind and once seen will never be forgotten.
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