The Battle of Algiers

Movie Information

Genre: Historical Drama
Director: Gillo Pontecorvo
Starring: Brahim Haggiag, Jean Martin, Saadi Yacef
Rated: NR

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.]

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.