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The Battle of Algiers Essay

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Updated: Jun 19th, 2019

The movie “The Battle of Algiers” is a war film that depicts events that took place during the Algerian war. It is considered as one of the most important chronicles of the guerilla warfare in North Africa.

A unique style effects as well as spectator visual effects are employed in this film that makes the viewer be glued to the screen. The movie is a portrayal of the true story told by Saadi Yacef. Thus, through the movie the viewer is able to relate to the events that took place in Algeria and that finally led to its independence (The Battle of Algiers1966).

The movie employs different soundtracks either as background tracks or played during an event that takes place. The soundtracks are used as a stylistic feature to signify something other than just being a source of entertainment for the viewer. For example, there is a scene of the bombing of a camp of Arabs by the two police officers when many innocent civilians were killed.

The next scene that shows the aftermath of the bombing has a specific soundtrack in the background. The soundtrack is sombre and is played to signify the real feelings of the victims as they are recovering the bodies of the dead children and women. The soundtrack represents a sad atmosphere full of anger, loathe and yearning for revenge.

The members of the public are agitated and demand revenge, but due to the strict security measures put in place by the police, the National Liberation Front (FLN) decides to infiltrate the French camps by imitating their women (The Battle Of Algiers1966).

Three Arab women dress up like French women to make revenge attacks in three different locations visited by the French: the airport, coffee shop and the club joint. When the women are busy applying makeup meant to transform them and make them look like the French women, the soundtrack used is that of drum beats. In the African society, long before the colonialist, the sound of drumbeats was used to signify war and the soundtrack used in that episode is symbolic of the looming revenge to be carried out by the women.

There are also soundtracks accompanying by the shouts and cries from the Muslim villages at the end of the film. These sounds forecast the expected independence in the next two years since that was in December 1960.

The movie correctly uses soundtracks as a method of conveying important information and ensuring the viewer is kept guessing and wondering what’s next. The use of the soundtracks has also made the theme of a revolutionary struggle for independence vivid and real to the viewer (Mellen 1973).

The movie also presents the flashbacks of Ali La Pointe. This happens when he is cornered and about to be bombed together with his family. In his flashback, he recalls how he became a member of the revolution or otherwise the rebel group.

He takes us through all the events he has been through as a member, fighting for the rights of the Algerians and at some instances charged with the responsibility of ensuring the laws enacted by the National Liberation Front are followed.

These laws included the ban on consumption of alcohol and prostitution by the members of the National Liberation Front. This style enables the viewer to understand why Ali is ready to sacrifice his life and lives of his family members and friends for the sake of the liberation other than surrender and face a trial (Aussaresses 2010, p.22).

The use of a flashback is also enhanced by the use of a movie within a movie used by Colonel Mathieu to introduce the new paratroopers to Algeria. The movie within a movie shows just how tactical the rebels were and how much knowledge was needed to be able to beat them at their own game.

Hence, he uses the movie as tool to analyse the rebels and find loopholes in the French army. It is through this movie within a movie that the viewer is able to understand the importance of this mission to the French and how important the city of Algiers is in their mission to keep colonizing Algeria (The Battle Of Algiers1966).

The movie is shot in black and white; this style enhances the credibility of the events depicted in the movie. The film has a quality of newsreel, thus making the viewer feel as if the real event is happening in present time and the viewer is part of it even though it’s all acting. It is for this reason that the movie begins with a disclaimer that there are no real parts and that it is not a documentary but it is purely a movie.

A spectator effect employed in the movie is inviting people who do not have acting background which makes the acting seem real since the actors do not seem as if they are acting or even struggling to go by a specific script. This makes the viewer feel insurgency associated with reality and even relate themselves to the events that are so crucial for the understanding of the country’s history (Aussaresses 2010, p.34).

The time when the events took place in the movie is placed in the screen; this effect makes the movie look real-time. For example, the raids that took place at the police station leading to killing of the police captain and the revenge attack perpetrated by the French that took place at night are seem to happen in the real time.

Time analysis allows the viewer to understand the connection between the movie and the events as they are taking place. It also enables the viewer to understand the chronological developments of events. Such is the death of the captain, the death of Ali and the demonstrations with flags that were to last for two years from 1960 until the country attained independence in 1962.

The movie “The Battle of Algiers” has enabled me to understand the events that took place during the struggle for independence in Algeria. Especially how the civilians gave their life to fight for their rights and how the French army and police tortured, assassinated and denied the Algerians their basic rights in their own land (Slocum 2005, p.40). The movie provides a clear insight into the factors that led to the eventual failure of the French regime in Algeria and the declaration of independence in the country (Mellen 1973, p.23).

The movie is associated with the events taking place in the world today. These events are similar to the current uprising in most Arabic countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria. The rebellions in these countries do not necessarily have to be against another invading country but they rebel against their own corrupt leaders.

Most of the rebellions in these countries have already been successful. Thus, the movie enables us to understand that no matter how hard and desperately you fight changes and the people’s will, changes has always and will always triumph (Slocum 2005, p.43).

Reference List

Aussaresses, P 2010,The Battle of the Casbah: Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Algeria 1955-1957, Enigma Books, New York, USA.

Mellen, J 1973, Film Guide to The Battle Algiers, Indiana University Press, Indiana, USA.

Slocum, D 2005, Terrorism, Media, Liberation, Rutgers University Press, New Jersey, USA.

The Battle of Algiers, 1966. [online video] Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo. Casbah Films, Algeria. Web.

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