The Battle of Algiers is a film directed by Gillo Pontecorvo fifty years ago. It describes the events that took place in the middle of the 20th century. In particular, the film focuses on the Algerian fight for independence revealed on the basis of the memoirs of the National Liberation Front leader, Saadi Yacef. The Battle of Algiers was known to its contemporary audience, but it did not really appeal to the next generations. However, the situation altered after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the film was re-released in 2003.
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The beginning of the 21st century is known for the increase of terrorism not only in the USA but also in other countries all over the world. Realizing the necessity to strengthen defense, Pentagon decided to refer to the past experiences of different parties, hoping that they would help to rethink the situation and develop some new approaches to cope with the challenges. Thus, the military forces of the USA and Ireland studied the Battle of Algiers in 2003, which seems to be an unusual approach the usefulness of which is not proved yet. I believe that this screening was not maintained for the representatives of the general public and was mainly targeted at military and civilian experts who wanted to get rid of terrorism. It was promoted as a film that provides historical insights on the conflict between Algeria and France and made to start a discussion on this issue, as it had lots in common with the Iraq situation. Such approach is unique, but there is a sense in it. The population is not involved in security precautions or military actions so it can hardly understand how to help the country just after watching a film. Still, people got to know that the Pentagon was ready to implement changes and protect them.
Getting to know about the re-release, the population of the post-9/11 world got interested in the film as well as the military, even though the topic was not on the front burner to them. As they experienced terrorist attacks, they became interested in such issues, which had a positive effect on the marketing.
I Am Cuba
The sequence showing the American “gentleman” trying to find his way out of Maria’s neighborhood in I Am Cuba is critical for the whole film because it reveals the difference between American and Cuban worlds more than other scenes. Jim, the “gentleman”, had a good time in the nightclub and he felt like a part of the community there. He could do everything he wanted and remained rather happy. As he followed a woman to her house, he was concentrated on his own feelings and emotions, which prevented him from noticing things that surrounded him. Being “lost” in the morning scene, Jim altered his views. Even though he acted as usual from the very beginning, his attitude altered with the course of time. The fact that he did not know where to go and that he differed from the rest of the population greatly proved that Jim was a foreigner to whom Cuba was an alien place. In addition to that, the discussed sequence is a milestone of the film because it gathered two sides of Cuba and reflected the title. The narrator mentioned that Cuba was not only those entertaining establishments, such as casinos but also the hands of hungry children and old people, and Jim also realized that.
The mise-en-scène totally supports discussed ideas, as the background scenery revealed a dirty abandoned place that contrasted with the club. Actors who played Cubans would differ greatly from the one who played Jim, as their costumes and actions revealed the lives in two different worlds. At first, the camera was focused on Jim who was wandering through narrow alleys. He was happy, and the music supported his mood. Then, the faces of sad Cubans started to appear, and children were begging for money. The music became less enthusiastic and started to reveal frustration. The camera would show people’s faces more to emphasize Jim’s confusion and Cubans’ feelings. Finally, the camera rose above and showed how he was getting away. In a calm but serious voice, the narrator told Jim not to close his eyes because Cuba was not only the place to have fun as he had previously thought.
All in all, the sound, montage, and image composition made this sequence more appealing and affected people’s emotions so that they became more sympathetic. They revealed the rapid change in Jim’s perception of Cuba and allowed to perceive political and economic issues faced by the population. Psychological montage allowed to deepen into people’s problems and follow characters’ changes and development). Personally, I believe that this sequence feels “dated” only because of the film is black and white. I think that the events described in the scene can happen today as well because foreigners tend to consider Cuba to be a great place for entertainment but they do not think about its population and their living conditions. This issue does not refer only to the past, unfortunately. Many people from the USA and Europe travel to developing countries that tend to do everything to please tourists because they provide the country with money.