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“The Battle of Algiers” Historical War Film Essay (Movie Review)


The Battle of Algiers (1966)

The Battle of Algiers is considered one of the most prominent films in the history of cinema. This movie was shot in 1966, just four years after the Algerian War of Independence. According to Gillo Pontecorvo who directed it, the film was based on the war between the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) and French paratroopers. This paper will provide a synopsis and analysis of the film.

Synopsis

The Battle of Algiers is an exceedingly political film, which won the 1966 Venice festival. The film covers injustice and the conflict during the 1950s. Furthermore, the film emphasizes the conflict between French paratroopers and Algerian insurgents in 1957, which led to several casualties on both sides. The film conveys memories of Ali la Pointe, the leading member of the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN). It’s objective was to expel suppressive Europeans from Algeria. The French government colonized Algeria in the 1950s under extreme sociopolitical conditions that included oppression and injustice1.

In the film, Ali La Pointe is killed along with other FLN leaders thereby creating a nationwide revolt. The film recreates vivid events that showed French paratroopers, led by colonel Mathieu, torturing FLN fighters2. The fight involved both Algerian women and children in the FLN’s struggle for independence. The film exposes a lot of atrocities committed during the Algerian war. For instance, while some Algerian children shot French soldiers at close range, Algerian women planted bombs in European occupied hotels. These attacks were coordinated by FLN insurgents.

Moreover, the FLN appealed to Algerian Arabs seeking help to defeat French oppression. It resulted in nationwide riots that took innocent lives from both sides. As the resistance increased, the French government intervened to stop the uprising. Surprisingly, French paratroopers resorted to torture and intimidation to stop the insurgency. The film was shot in Algiers where the events had occurred. Moreover, the film manifests features of documentary style. Most political analysts agree that although the French government won the battle, Algerian people succeeded in this war. In essence, the film acts as a recap of the events that had led to Algerian independence in 1962.

Analysis

The film portrays injustice and conflict in the tumultuous battle for Algiers. The main cause of conflict in the film was constant oppression by French colonizers. Forced occupation and unrelenting injustice on native Arab Algerians forced Ali and his group to fight back through guerilla warfare tactics. Evidence of injustice is paramount in the film. For instance, while the Europeans were living in a spacious modern city, their Arab counterparts were dwelling in Casbah, an old, packed and indigent town3.

The film showed how the French were enjoying themselves while the Arabs were suffering. Besides, the French had supervisory jobs while their Arab neighbors had to fulfill different manual work. For instance, the Police Commissioner was European while his servant was an Arab. Besides, the French contingent belonged to the upper social class while the Arabs remained impoverished and lacked social power. Furthermore, French colonizers were arrogant and demeaning to the Arabs.

The conflict escalated in the film because of the unbearable suppression of the Arabs. Throughout the film, it can be observed that the main cause of this conflict was atrocities the Arabs were subjected to. Consequently, the conflict had developed and escalated into a nationwide revolt4. Moreover, increased oppression through torture and killing of FLN members led to further casualties from both sides died. When Arab women planted bombs, European civilians were killed. On the other hand, when French paratroopers killed people indiscriminately, Arab civilians suffered. In essence, the theme of conflict and injustice was conveyed profoundly in the film.

Bibliography

Briley, Ron. “Terrorism on Screen: lessons from the Battle of Algiers.” American Historian Association. Web.

Evans, Martin. “Open Democracy. Web.

Giguere, Noelle. “Equinoxes. Web.

Heath, Glenn. “Slant Magazine. Web.

Footnotes

  1. Martin Evans, “The Battle of Algiers: Historical truth and filmic representation,” Open Democracy. Web.
  2. Noelle Giguere, “Characterizing the City: Space and identity in the Battle of Algiers,” Equinoxes. Web.
  3. Glenn Heath, “The battle of Algiers,” Slant Magazine. Web.
  4. Ron Briley, “Terrorism on Screen: lessons from the Battle of Algiers,” American Historian Association. Web.
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IvyPanda. (2020, July 18). "The Battle of Algiers" Historical War Film. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-battle-of-algiers-historical-war-film/

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""The Battle of Algiers" Historical War Film." IvyPanda, 18 July 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-battle-of-algiers-historical-war-film/.

1. IvyPanda. ""The Battle of Algiers" Historical War Film." July 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-battle-of-algiers-historical-war-film/.


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IvyPanda. ""The Battle of Algiers" Historical War Film." July 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-battle-of-algiers-historical-war-film/.

References

IvyPanda. 2020. ""The Battle of Algiers" Historical War Film." July 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-battle-of-algiers-historical-war-film/.

References

IvyPanda. (2020) '"The Battle of Algiers" Historical War Film'. 18 July.

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