The Battle of Algiers

1966 | War | 120 minutes | In French and Arabic with English subtitles

Info

The film depicts the fight between the rebels (or FLN) in Algeria and the French occupiers from 1954-1962. The most bloody battle is the one for Algiers. The FLN was based in the Casbah section of Algiers. From there the FLN organized their terrorist activities, hoping to weaken French resistance. To retaliate,  France sent in paratroopers to destroy the FLN. Both sides were equally brutal resorting to the killing of innocent people, torturing prisoners, and assassinating opposing leaders. As in most such uprisings, the winners were those fighting for their independence. But in each case, the cost was always exceptionally high.

Cast
Pontecorvo chose nonprofessional Algerians to be in the film. The sole exception was the professional actor Jean Martin, who played Colonel Mathieu.
Why Stream This Film?
The Pentagon screened this film for many of their military personnel to illustrate a new kind of warfare: one that involved fierce resistance fighters attacking conventional forces and then retreating unrecognized into the general population. Back then the Pentagon wanted to highlight the difficulties winning the war in Vietnam. One can also relate The Battle of Algiers to the revolutions in Cuba, Northern Ireland, South Africa, and America’s own revolution in 1776. It’s a must-see movie especially for anyone interested in history. 
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 98%
  • Metacritic Score: 95
Accolades
  • Venice International Film Festival: Golden Lion for Best Film
  • Academy Award Nominations: Best Foreign Language Film; Best Screenplay (Gillo Pontecorvo and Franco Solinas); Best Director (Gillo Pontecorvo) 
  • Empire Magazine: #6 in the listing of “The 100 Best Films of World Cinema”

Now streaming on:

THE BATTLE of ALGIERS remains even today a triumph of realistic product values. Filming on location in Algiers, using the real locations in the European quarter and the Casbah (which sheltered the FLN), the film achieved convincing actuality. The strength of the film is that it is lucid and dispassionate in its examination of the tactics in both sides.
Roger Ebert

RogerEbert.com

More extraordinary and therefore more commanding of lasting interest and critical applause is the amazing photographic virtuosity and pictorial conviction of the film. So authentically and naturalistically were its historical reflections staged, with literally thousands of citizens participating in the streets and buildings of Algiers, that it looks almost to be a documentary.
Bosley Crowther

The New York Times

The chafing, mutually incomprehensible collision between Western occupiers and the occupied Muslims has never been captured with such dispassionate, thrilling clarity. THE BATTLE of ALGIERS is a thinking person’s action film in which there are winners—but no heroes.
Ty Burr

The Boston Globe

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