English Title: The Battle of Algiers
Original Title: La battaglia di Algeri
Country: Italy, Algeria
Language: French, Italian
Genre: Crime, Drama, History
Director: Gillo Pontecorvo
Writer: Franco Solinas
Fusia El Kader
Mohamed Ben Kassen
Algerian Government subsidized and hired Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo to shoot a film to recount the bloody clash between FLN (Algerian National Liberation Front) and French colonial only few years after its independence (1962). The film was not only won GOLDEN LION in Venice in 1966 and an Academy Awards nomination for BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM in 1967 but also was nominated for BEST DIRECTOR and SCREENPLAY in 1969 for a rare second round.
THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS impresses its viewers with a haunting collection of close-up portraits of various people (both French and Algerian) under a soul-searching orchestration emphasized by stark chiaroscuro, it was years after Italian Neo-Realism, but the non-professional cast (the only pro is a wiry and bulged-eyed Jean Martin, who commands a stance of military mettle perfectly) and locale-revamping contributes a great amount of authenticity in the final work. There are plenty of overlooking angles with extensive depth of focus to examine and the city and enlighten one’s appreciation, plus there are fleeting montages of torture under interrogation are disturbing but can potently generates a sense of boldness to show audience the cruelty in reality. However the most indelible ones are the waiting-for-the-bombs-to-explode experiences, with camera panning over innocent white victims-to-be unwittingly relish their last moment of hedonism, utterly guarantee a surge of compassion out of shock value terms, while Ennio Morricone’s score never fail to be distinctive and laudable.
Therefore, the film should also be extolled by its unbiased perspective in telling its stories from both parts, dispassionately channels viewers to witness the vindictive constitution lying underneath common humanity and the aimless and reproachable tit-for-tat acts ensuring. There are radical debates as regards the essence of revolution, a much more penetrating motto is revolution doesn’t mean war and terrorism is not a means to win a revolution, which should be indoctrinated all over the world, especially to those tinderboxes where religious and political threats are pervading rampantly at present.
Showing no partiality to either sides is not an easy move since the production was backed and green-lit by one of the government, thus the film is a genuine gem in retaining the integrity and fabricating a gripping panorama of a chain of bloodshed and baring its true color under the stark daylight.