Leave the cannoli, take the movies

Review Blog

The Battle of Algiers

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on August 10, 2010 at 11:14 PM


Gillo Pontecorvo


IDEA:   A gritty, documentary-style account of Algeria's bloody fight for independence against the French.

BLURB:   The Battle of Algiers, like war itself, is not about morals. As we watch Algerian citizens facilitate the evolution of modern warfare before our eyes – bombing public cafés, shooting innocent bystanders on drive-bys, killing cops point blank – we recoil in disgust at the atrocities being committed. Do they have good reason to be doing what they’re doing? Is there any other way out from the colonial squeeze of their French oppressors? I don’t think the film gets quite to the point where it successfully addresses these ethical conflicts, but I also don’t think that’s the goal. This is a work as alive, dexterous, and whip-fast as they come, a combustion of expert filmmaking in breathless accordance with the guerilla tactics captured within. The crowd scenes, the giant riots, and the spontaneity of the mise en scène recall no less than the most authentic newsreel footage. Algeria finally won its independence after constant heated violence and terrorism. The fact it had to come to that is an unfortunate reality.

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