Criterion Collection - The Battle of Algiers

Criterion Collection - The Battle of Algiers

4.8 7
Director: Gillo Pontecorvo

Cast: Brahim Haggiag, Yacef Saadi, Jean Martin

     
 

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This highly political film about the Algerian struggle for independence from France took "Best Film" honors at the 1966 Venice Film Festival. The bulk of the film is shot in flashback, presented as the memories of Ali (Brahim Haggiag), a leading member of the Algerian Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN), when finally captured by the French in 1957. Three years earlier

Overview

This highly political film about the Algerian struggle for independence from France took "Best Film" honors at the 1966 Venice Film Festival. The bulk of the film is shot in flashback, presented as the memories of Ali (Brahim Haggiag), a leading member of the Algerian Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN), when finally captured by the French in 1957. Three years earlier, Ali was a petty thief who joined the secretive organization in order to help rid the Casbah of vice associated with the colonial government. The film traces the rebels' struggle and the increasingly extreme measures taken by the French government to quell what soon becomes a nationwide revolt. After the flashback, Ali and the last of the FLN leaders are killed, and the film takes on a more general focus, leading to the declaration of Algerian independence in 1962. Director Gillo Pontecorvo's careful re-creation of a complicated guerrilla struggle presents a rather partisan view of some complex social and political issues, which got the film banned in France for many years. That should not come as a surprise, for La Battaglia di Algeri was subsidized by the Algerian government and -- with the exception of Jean Martin and Tommaso Neri as French officers -- the cast was entirely Algerian as well. At least three versions exist, running 135, 125, and 120 minutes.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
A forerunner of the "docudrama," this 1965 Italian-Algerian co-production won a slew of awards and became an unlikely international success that remains eerily resonant today. It shows the guerrilla war for Algerian independence from the French in 1954 as seen through the eyes of some of the participants. Shot in the actual locations, mixing actors with real-life combatants and eschewing the use of stock or newsreel footage, Battle comes across as probably being closer to the truth than any straight documentary could have been, mainly because it captures the complexities of the situation without resorting to facile finger-pointing. Although banned in France for many years, the film has become accepted as a masterpiece of its kind, conveying emotion without ignoring cold, hard facts. Its principal asset is a rigorous, impartial examination of views held by both sides, carefully woven into the narrative. Director Gillo Pontecorvo never again made a motion picture of Battle's style, depth, or impact; but his place film history is assured nonetheless, if only on the strength of this powerfully affecting movie.
All Movie Guide
The principal characteristic of Gillo Pontecorvo's La Battaglia di Algeri (The Battle of Algiers) is its ferocious authenticity. It is a monument of neo-realism in the best tradition of Vittorio De Sica (Shoeshine, Bicycle Thieves) and Roberto Rossellini (Rome, Open City). La Battaglia di Algeri is made with such astonishing, feral realism that it effectively blurs the line between documentary and fiction filmmaking. Using professional and non-professional actors, and, unbelievably, no newsreel footage, Pontecorvo draws out the passion and story of the Algerian people trying to free themselves from French rule in the mid-Fifties. There are any number of striking, memorable sequences, and the film became influential for the revolutionary mentality which hit the United States around the same time (it was apparently a favorite film of The Black Panthers). A stylistic connection can also be made between one of the most important American films of the 1960s, Bonnie and Clyde, and this movie, which preceded it by a year.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/09/2011
UPC:
0715515085113
Original Release:
1966
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
A
Presentation:
[B&W, Wide Screen]
Time:
2:01:00
Sales rank:
3,282

Special Features

Disc one: ; High-definition transfer, supervised by director of photography Marcello Gatti, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack ; Gillo Pontecorvo: The Dictatorship Truth, a documentary narrated by literary critic Edward Said; Morxist poetry: The making of "The Battle of Algiers," a documentary featuring interviews with Pontecorvo, Gatti, and composer Ennio Morricone, among others ; Interviews with Spike Lee, Mira Nair, Julian Schnabel, Steven Soderbergh, and Oliver Stone on the film's influence, style, and importance; Production gallery ; Theatrical and rerelease trailers ; Disc two: History and the Film: ; Remembering History a documentary on the Algerian experience of the battle for independence ; "États d'armes," a documentary exerpt featuring senior French military officers recalling the use of torture and execution to combat the Algerian rebellion; "The Battle of Algiers": A Case Study, a video piece featuring U.S. counterterrorism experts; Gillo Pontecorvo's Return to Algiers, a documentary in which the filmmaker revisits the country after three decades of independece

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Brahim Haggiag Ali La Pointe
Yacef Saadi Kader
Jean Martin Colonel Mathieu
Tommaso Neri Captain
Fawzia el Kader Halima
Michele Kerbash Fathia
Mohamed Ben Kassen Little Omar,Petit Omar
Samia Kerbash Arabian girl,One of the girls

Technical Credits
Gillo Pontecorvo Director,Score Composer,Screenwriter
Sergio Canevari Production Designer
Marcello Gatti Cinematographer
Mario Morra Editor
Ennio Morricone Score Composer
Antonio Musu Producer
Yacef Saadi Producer
Mario Serandrei Editor
Franco Solinas Screenwriter

Videos

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Criterion Collection - The Battle of Algiers 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Arguably the most authentic war film of all time. Shot and produced only a few years after unconditional withdraw form Algeria, the French government immediately banned this film--for a society that takes such pride in its cinematic accomplishments, for it to ban such a highly acclaimed project says something to the film's credit. As NPR reported in the early phases of the Iraq war last year, the US military studied this film, as suggested by Rand Corporation and other ITs and think tanks, as part of the preperation for fighting an urban warfare in a medina al-Bali. What NPR failed to mention was how the French fought this battle: torture, including washboarding.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While shot on a low budget under severe constraints the director was truly engaged in this work, and this is not lost on the pellicule. This work conveys a troubling but encouraging anti-imperialist message, and its characters, while we know little of their personal lives --"lacking character developement?" whatever mr reviewer...- draws us into the conflit on a much deeper human level. -oui, oui, ce sont des humaines vivant là-bas- (as opposed to FR-vs-ALgérie) perspective. A true testament to the Algerienne people and the human spirit is this film. !! faut finir avec la françafrique !! -- Si le sol algérien n'ait jamais fait partie de la territoire française alors comment peut-on dire que les hommes qui ont lutter contre l'impérialisme français s'agissaient-ils des "rébels" ? -- -- "On récolte ce que l'on sème" Si ces mots sont véridiques, alors faits gaffe à vos fesses dirégants de la fransoeur ! ---
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DrewBurns More than 1 year ago
Film theorists discuss this film and political groups have alternately praised and banned the film. It puts the story of terrorism firmly in the parlance of revolution, thus, in terms too taboo for any film of its kind to be made today. Luckily, it was released in 1966.