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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Brahim Haggiag
Jean Martin
Yacef Saadi
Yacef Saadi.
Directors
Gillo Pontecorvo.
Screenwriters
Gillo Pontecorvo
Franco Solinas.
Running Time
121 minutes

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The Battle Of Algiers
Passionate, political, perfect


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Plot
Over the course of three years, a cynical French colonel (Martin) pits his wits against the freedom fighters of Algeria's National Liberation Front.


Review
The Battle Of Algiers

Based on actual events — although not without its moments of dramatic licence — Gillo Pontecorvo's film chronicles three years of insurrection and repression with such cine-veracity that the producers felt the need to append a caption at the end of the opening titles assuring viewers that `not one foot' of documentary material had been included.
 
Released just four years after Algeria had secured its independence from France, this technical and dramatic masterclass has lost none of its power to shock and provoke. American critic Pauline Kael compared its propagandist impact with Leni Riefenstahl's The Triumph of the Will and even accused Pontecorvo of being that `most dangerous kind of Marxist, a Marxist poet'. Kael may have had a point about socialist agit-prop being afforded a cinematic and socio-political respectability that has always been denied right-wing film-making. But surely a more useful comparison could be made with Roberto Rossellini's Rome, Open City (1945), which was also made on location, with a largely non-professional cast in a neo-realistic style that owed more to newsreel than studio artifice.

However, Pontecorvo avoids the melodramatics of Rossellini's film by presenting the victims of both the bomb blasts and the reprisals as genuine innocents rather than the faceless casualties of a revolutionary or imperialist cause. Consequently, the lingering shots of unsuspecting individuals before the carnage are every bit as disturbing as those depicting the rebels being tortured by Jean Martin's military. Pontecorvo's sympathies may be evident, but his conviction and condemnation are not devoid of compassion.

Despite winning the Golden Lion at Venice and being nominated for three Academy Awards, The Battle of Algiers was banned in France for five years. It's this contentiousness on which its reputation still rests. But it also has a vigour, a commitment and an intelligence that is absent from too much modern cinema.


Verdict
The most important piece of political filmmaking since Battleship Potemkin.


Reviewed by David Parkinson


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Average user rating for The Battle Of Algiers
Empire Star Rating

"I fear only God."

Gripping and occasionally disturbing, The Battle of Algiers is an important, richly textured political thriller and one of the finest films, foreign or otherwise, to come out of the 1960s. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by movienut707 at 23:32, 12 November 2013 | Report This Post


"I fear only God."

Gripping and occasionally disturbing, The Battle of Algiers is an important, richly textured political thriller and one of the finest films, foreign or otherwise, to come out of the 1960s. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by movienut707 at 23:32, 12 November 2013 | Report This Post


intwerstingly i beleive this was shown to the American forces to illustrate how to win an insurgency battle but lose the "hearts and minds" war.... just need to switch on the news to see how that ones going ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Dead at 12:49, 14 May 2007 | Report This Post


intwerstingly i beleive this was shown to the American forces to illustrate how to win an insurgency battle but lose the "hearts and minds" war.... just need to switch on the news to see how that ones going ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Dead at 12:49, 14 May 2007 | Report This Post


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