[Movie] The Battle of Algiers (1966)

  • Italian Title: La battaglia di Algeri
  • Arabic Title: معركة الجزائر
  • Directed By: Gillo Pontecorvo
  • Based on: 1962 memoir novel “Souvenirs de la Bataille d’Alger,” written by Saadi Yacef, one of the military chiefs of FLN
  • Cast: Jean Martin, Saadi Yacef, Brahim Haggiag, Tommaso Neri

The Battle of Algiers was a campaign of urban guerrilla warfare carried out by the National Liberation Front (FLN) against the French Algerian authorities from late 1956 to late 1957. 


It’s hard to start a revolution. Even harder to continue it. And hardest of all to win it. But, it’s only afterwards, when we have won, that the true difficulties begin. In short, Ali, there’s still much to do.

Ben M’Hidi from the movie

We aren’t madmen or sadists, gentlemen. Those who call us Fascists today, forget the contribution that many of us made to the Resistance. Those who call us Nazis, don’t know that among us there are survivors of Dachau and Buchenwald. We are soldiers and our only duty is to win.

Col. Mathieu from the movie

The Battle of Algiers” is a historical war film directed by Gillo Pontecorvo. With the newsreel-style, in black and white with documentary-type, and non-professional actors, the film is regarded as one of the masterworks of Italian neorealism. 

The main theme of the film is anti-imperialism. Even though the focus is on native Algerians, the film tried to maintain the balance between FLN and French authorities. Pontecorvo depicted the cruelty of civilian attacks and violence by both sides and tried not to romanticize resistance fighters as heroes. The director keeps the fine balance between realism and art by expressing his artistic touch as far as possible without exceeding the boundary. The effect of uglifying facts as a documentary-style is very prominent: viewers are experiencing the ugly reality very deep on a personal level.

Each scene – explosion, torture, and rescue – gives a deep mark to viewers emotionally. Scenes seem familiar, and you see what you expected. But you will still be shocked and wondered why this happened. Finally, you are surprised why we have similar violence even in the 21st century. Does history just repeat? Is violence a human nature? It is a good example of how a movie can shake our emotions and consciousness. It is a movie that is highly recommended to watch.

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