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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The Criterion Collection release of The Battle of Algiers shows once again why there is no more trustworthy name in DVD. The film itself looks as good as it ever has on home video. The image is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The French and Arabic soundtrack is rendered in Dolby Digital Mono. English subtitles are accessible. Two


The Criterion Collection release of The Battle of Algiers shows once again why there is no more trustworthy name in DVD. The film itself looks as good as it ever has on home video. The image is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The French and Arabic soundtrack is rendered in Dolby Digital Mono. English subtitles are accessible. Two discs of supplemental materials include documentaries on the director Gillo Pontecorvo, the making of the film itself, a look at the historical time period depicted in the film, a film about the director returning to Algiers three decades after making the film, and a short on how security expert Richard A. Clarke finds lessons in the film that can be applied to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Another short film features Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, Steven Soderbergh, Julian Schnabel, and Mira Nair discussing the film's influence over their own work. This is one of the best discs of 2004.

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:
Original Release:
[B&W, Wide Screen]
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Special Features

New high-definition digital transfer, enhanced for widescreen televisions; Production gallery; Theatrical and re-release trailers; New and improved English subtitle translation; "Gillo Pontecorvo: The Dictatorship of Truth" (1992): A 37-minute documentary, narrated by literary critic Edward Said; Exclusive 51-minute documentary on the making of The Battle of Algiers, featuring new interviews with the director, cinematographer, composer, editor, actors, and film historians; "Five Directors" (17 mins., 2004): Spike Lee, Mira Nair, Julian Schnabel, Steven Soderbergh, and Oliver Stone on the film's influence, style, and importance; "Remembering History" (69 mins., 2004): An exclusive documentary that reconstructs the Algerian experience of the battle for independence, featuring interviews with historians and revolutionaries, including military leader Saadi Yacef; "États d'Armes" (2002): A 28-minute documentary excerpt featuring senior French military officers recalling the use of torture and execution to combat the rebellion; "The Battle of Algiers: A Case Study" (25 mins., 2004): Richard A. Clarke, former national counterterrorism coordinator and author of "Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror," discusses the film's relevance with Michael A. Sheehan, former State Department coordinator for counterterrorism, in a conversation moderated by Christopher E. Isham, chief of investigative projects for ABC News; "Gillo Pontecorvo's Return to Algiers" (58 mins., 1992): The filmmaker revisits the Algerian people after three decades of independence; A 56-page book featuring excerpts from Saadi Yacef's original account of his arrest, a reprinted excerpt from the film's screenplay, a reprinted interview with co-writer Franco Solinas, a new essay by film scholar Peter Matthews, and biographical sketches on key figures in the French-Algerian War

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

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Battle of Algiers
1. Opening Titles: Algiers, 1957 [6:40]
2. Algiers, 1954: Ali La Pointe [3:13]
3. Witness To an Execution [2:27]
4. Message From Jaffar [5:38]
5. FLN Communiqué No. 24 [4:03]
6. A Wedding Ceremony [2:39]
7. June 20, 1956, 10:32... [2:09]
8. Police Precinct [2:29]
9. Barricades and Barbed Wire [:47]
10. July 20, 1956, 11:20... [4:44]
11. No. 8 the Casbah [4:56]
12. "The FLN Will Avenge You!" [1:39]
13. Three Women [6:53]
14. Three Bombs [5:46]
15. Paratroopers Arrive [1:22]
16. A Faceless Enemy [5:07]
17. General Strike [3:12]
18. Larbi Ben M'Hidi [4:15]
19. Raiding the Casbah [3:08]
20. A Word From Col. Mathieu [1:58]
21. Intelligence Gathering [2:05]
22. Day Six of the Strike [2:06]
23. Un Resolution [3:50]
24. Four FLN Leaders [5:49]
25. February 25, 1957: The Racetrack [1:19]
26. Press Conference With Ben M'Hidi [2:38]
27. "We Are Soldiers, Our Duty Is To Win." [4:04]
28. Public Torture, Random Killing [2:37]
29. August 26, 1957: Ramel and Murad [3:41]
30. September 24, 1957: Jaffar [3:40]
31. "Ali La Pointe Is Still Free" [3:54]
32. Mahmud, Hassiba, Omar, and Ali [4:56]
33. December 11, 1960: Uprising [4:36]
34. "Long Live Algeria!" [2:47]
Disc #2 -- Battle of Algiers
1. Introduction [2:56]
2. Youth and Politics [7:34]
3. Kapò To the Battle of Algiers [8:36]
4. Burn! and Ogro [10:00]
5. Burden of His Convictions [6:11]
6. Questions Raised [2:09]
1. "A Marxist Poet" [2:32]
2. Gillo and Franco [3:17]
3. Pará To the Battle of Algiers [7:28]
4. Finding the Right Face [6:09]
5. "Reportage, Reportage" [2:51]
6. "The Heart of the Subject" [6:03]
7. Under Gillo's Direction [7:05]
8. Editing and Music [7:56]
9. The Golden Lion [5:06]
10. Epilogue [2:47]
1. Five Directors as Viewers [5:58]
2. The Choices Pontecorvo Made [3:56]
3. Poetry and Politics [3:41]
4. Making Political Films Today [3:38]
Disc #3 -- Battle of Algiers
1. Introductions [3:28]
2. The Film and History [1:46]
3. Colonization / The Algerians Organize [11:43]
4. November 1, 1954: The War Begins [6:36]
5. From Country To City / FLN Leadership [7:04]
6. Bombings and Retaliations [12:54]
7. The Battle of Algiers [8:38]
8. Torture [7:10]
9. The Battle Ends, the War Continues [6:49]
10. Epilogue [2:35]
1. A City at War [3:56]
2. "Cop Work" [2:02]
3. "Everyone Must Talk" [3:23]
4. Dirty Work [2:53]
5. Larbi Ben M'Hidi [4:40]
6. War Crimes [4:06]
7. Approval From the Top [7:21]
1. Terrorism [9:03]
2. Torture [5:46]
3. "Hearts & Minds" [1:37]
4. Lessons [8:10]
1. Credits / Boudiaf Assassinated [5:05]
2. Twenty-Seven Years Later [4:27]
3. Fearing a Fundamentalist State [5:00]
4. Memory Lane [8:30]
5. Islam and the Media [5:46]
6. Islamic Identity [3:40]
7. Acceptance and Access [7:34]
8. Two Worlds [7:06]
9. The Casbah, 1992: Empty Promises [9:13]
10. A Final Conversation With Boudiaf [1:40]


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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.