There’s more than a little irony that Gillo Pontecorvo’s critically acclaimed and undeniably powerful 1965 film, The Battle of Algiers, was screened at the Pentagon in the early days of the war on Iraq. Sure, it ably demonstrates what any occupying army is getting itself into, but did no one notice that the film clearly spells out the occupiers’ inevitable failure in a situation where they’re pitted against civilians who do not wish to be occupied?
The film itself is not without its own irony, since the sole sympathetic French soldier (Jean Martin) was a member of the French resistance during the Nazi occupation of France during WW II, doing many of the things to those occupying his country that are here being done to him and his men. This point makes it impossible not to consider that perhaps the only difference between an insurgent and a resistance fighter is whose side you happen to be on.
And while it’s clear that the movie is very much a stacked deck, which invariably takes the Algerian side, the bias doesn’t lessen the film’s lesson.
– reviewed by Ken Hanke
[The Battle of Algiers will be screened Thursday, Sept. 8 at 9 p.m. at the Asheville Community Resource Center, the first in the ACRC’s Resistance Film Night series (to be held every other Thursday). The ACRC is at 16 Carolina Lane downtown.]