Saturday 8 December 2012
The Battle of Algiers 
Made at the behest of the newly formed Algerian government soon after securing independence, based on the memoirs of an FLN commander, and promptly banned by France upon its release, The Battle of Algiers remains as one of the most incredible, authentic, polarizing and devastatingly brilliant portrayals of violent revolutionary struggle, and a cornerstone for political and agitprop filmmaking. Made in cinéma vérité style and imbued with a remarkable here-and-now feel, the film’s ferocious intensity and explosive anti-imperialist statement needs to be seen to be believed, and its content is as disturbingly relevant today as it was back then. The loosely structured storyline gives us an account of the formation of the National Liberation Front (FLN), its violent collision with the French forces over a period of 3 years, and the eventual iron-fisted crackdown by the army. Notably, despite its partisan stance, the film on the whole felt surprisingly neutral in spirit and tone – the mayhem and massacre caused by both the sides were shown in unflinching detail, and the French Colonel leading the charge against FLN, contrary to what one might expect, was depicted in sympathetic light and as a three-dimensional character. The grainy, high contrast black-and-white photography, on-location shooting, awkward camera angles, and jarring, hand-held camera movements, gave the film such documentary realism that it was difficult to believe that no newsreel footage was used in it. The pulsating soundtrack and the use of non-professional actors further emphasized its neo-realist aspects. In summation, this film stands as the cinematic equivalent of Che Guevara’s Guerrilla Warfare, viz. a revolutionary anthem for the oppressed class.
Director: Gillo Pontecorvo
Genre: Drama/Political Drama/Historical Drama/Docu-Fiction/War