In the 1950s, the Algerians are struggling to gain independence from the occupying French. As the two sides continue to clash, the violence escalates; from children shooting soldiers and women planting bombs in cafés, to French soldiers using torture tactics to get through to insurgents.
It’s hard enough to start a revolution, even harder to sustain it, and hardest of all to win it. But it’s only afterwards, once we’ve won, that the real difficulties begin.
While The Battle of Algiers is a narrative movie, it’s shot in a documentary style to really emphasize the events that took place ten years before the film’s release. Watching the movie, it felt like I was seeing the actual events of the Algerian War unfold, and not just actors playing their parts. The film also felt more authentic in that sense because director Gillo Pontecorvo opted to use mostly non-professional actors, choosing them primarily for their resemblance to their real-life counterparts. But with how realistic the events were portrayed in the film, it was sometimes hard to watch as the director didn’t shy away from showing brutal acts as a result of warfare.
Though it’s clear the filmmakers identify more with the Algerians in this film, The Battle of Algiers does a great job of showing the atrocities from both sides of the struggle. Instead of demonizing one side, it exemplifies the terrible effects war has on anyone who participates in it, no matter which side they’re on. This could have easily been seen as a propaganda-type film, but instead, it’s aged well decades after its release and remains an especially relevant movie today.
The Battle of Algiers (1966)
Directed by: Gillo Pontecorvo
Starring: Jean Martin, Saadi Yacef, Brahim Hadjadj