Quick recap: Although I’d like to just sum up the movie by saying, ‘It’s about the Battle of Algiers, duh,’ I’ll resist the snark for now. Algeria is a country in Africa that up until the early 1960s was under French rule. This movie tells the story of the uprising that lead to the country’s eventual independence.
Fun (?) fact: The Pentagon screened this movie in 2003 for officers heading into Iraq, where we had a little invading of our own to do. They passed around fliers that said, ‘How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas.’
My thoughts: This movie made me sad for many reasons, a big one being that I can’t make fun of it because it was actually good. I had all these witty things planned about The Battle of Algiers, which I can never use now because I was absolutely fascinated the whole time. Oh, and the gruesome torture scenes. Those were sad, too.
I was only slightly aware of what the Algerian war was, and the little information I had came from the movie Wild Reeds. I understand why it’s not heavily talked about in the US: a) because it had nothing to do with us and b) because it makes the French government look really bad. When I think of Colonialism, I think of the early 1900s, not the 1950s so it was weird to merge that time period with something so antiquated. I wasn’t able to find how accurate The Battle of Algiers was, but the main events are all true. The movie is shot documentary style, and it made it feel like I was watching a history lesson or a special on the news.
Adding to that style of filmmaking, most of the actors in the movie were mostly unknowns who were cast because of their resemblance to the real people involved. The movie is subtitled in French so I can’t really get a feel as to how the acting shapes up, but I will say that everything felt ‘real’, especially the riot scenes. The torture scenes were incredibly difficult to watch but even more so were the effects of the bombings from the Algerians as well as the French. It’s simply hard to believe that such a thing happened in modern times.
Final review: 5/5. Many scenes are hard to watch, but the movie provides a great beginning point for someone wanting to expand their knowledge.
Up next: The Matrix