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The Battle of Algiers (Criterion Collection) (1966)

Cast: Brahim Haggiag, Brahim Haggiag, Yacef Saadi, more...
Director: Gillo Pontecorvo, Gillo Pontecorvo
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Criterion
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Politics and Social Issues, France, Africa, Algeria, Criterion Collection
Languages: French, Arabic
Subtitles: English
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Synopses
The Battle of Algiers (Criterion Collection) (1966)
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. ~ Robert Firsching, All Movie Guide

The Battle of Algiers (Criterion Collection) (Disc 2: Bonus Disc - Pontecorvo and the Film) (1966)
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. ~ Robert Firsching, All Movie Guide

The Battle of Algiers (Criterion Collection) (Disc 3: Bonus Disc - The Film and History) (1966)
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. ~ Robert Firsching, All Movie Guide

Special Features:

  • Production Gallery
  • Theatrical and re-release trailers



GreenCine Member Ratings

The Battle of Algiers (Criterion Collection) (1966)
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8.44 (290 votes)
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The Battle of Algiers (Criterion Collection) (Disc 2: Bonus Disc - Pontecorvo and the Film) (1966)
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7.36 (25 votes)
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The Battle of Algiers (Criterion Collection) (Disc 3: Bonus Disc - The Film and History) (1966)
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8.16 (25 votes)
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GreenCine Member Reviews

A perfect film by SBarnett May 3, 2006 - 8:35 AM PDT
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5 out of 5 members found this review helpful
I watched this film three times, trying as hard as I could to find a single flaw, a moment that wasn't quite right--the look on someone's face, a snatch of music, a camera angle, a character's movement, a view of a street or room. There's nothing. Every second of the film, from the truly unforgettable opening image of the traitor's face to the final image of women dancing in front of tanks in the street, is perfect, under control yet spontaneous, full of life and dignity and meaning, beautifully acted and staged and photographed. This is a film of faces--individual faces, in crowd scenes and private moments, the very young and the very old, Algerian, French, and the complex spectrum in between. There is violence and brutality that will churn your stomach, without gallons of blood spurting all over the floor. Yes, it's propaganda, as it advocates a particular point of view. Yes, it's biased, as the point of view is that the Algerian revolution must succeed. Yes, it's manipulative, as it forces us to understand many things, from the terrifying logic of bombing civilians to the divine love of a mother for her child, from a soldier's grim duty to a revolutionary's pure passion. Seen purely as a film, this has equals, but no superiors. Seen as a lesson in politics, it retains its relevance. Algeria is not Iraq: French colonialism is not U.S. imperialism. But the doomed effort of the West to impose its will on non-Western people, and the determined use of Islam as a weapon against it, are displayed in this film with a passion and clarity that is absent from our "fair and balanced" TV news.

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