The Battle of Algiers (1966)
"The Battle of Algiers" is a movie about war, rebellion, and repression. It tells the story of Algeria's move towards independence, the riots that ensued because of this move, and France's opposition to the cries for independence.
Told in a flashback, "The Battle of Algiers" is probably the least war-like war film I've ever seen. The movie itself has so many layers—revenge, racism, and intolerance.
Banned in France after its release "The Battle of Algiers" would inspire filmmakers for years after its release. Most notably the action sequences can been likened to the ending scenes from "Saving Private Ryan" or some of the moments from "Band of Brothers".
As the 1950s start off, a revolution is brewing in the minds of some of the people in Algeria. The main character of the movie, a young man named Ali La Pointe, is a renegade who doesn't want to conform to any rules. He stays on the streets and plays gambling games. While running from the police, he is tripped by the white French teenagers that get their kicks making him suffer. So he does what anyone would do....he gives one of them a good punch to the face and then gets carted away to the police station.
In prison he witness the execution of a fellow Muslim who praises Allah right until his head is cut from his body. Something in him is stirred.
He decides that he's going to join an underground rebellion group...so he does. They test him first, telling him that he's supposed to kill a policeman; but things don't go exactly as he thought they would. He soon proves his allegiance to this rebellious group, who call themselves FLN.
Soon the military becomes involved and the few actions of killing policemen are turned into street bombings and gunning down pedestrians.
Enter the ruthless Colonel Mathieu who sees it as his responsibility to eradicate every last member of the FLN before moving through Algeria and pacifying the rebellions completely.
The FLN and the military butt heads, the rebellion is so well-put together that many people of the rebellion couldn't tell who the leader is. They are efficient and merciless. They rely on any help they can get, sometimes letting women carry bombs to public places in handbags and baskets, blowing up hundreds of innocents...just casualties of war.
To rid themselves of "the impurities of humanity" the streets are purged of drugs, alcohol, and prostitution.
One of the most eerie scenes has children making fun of a drunk on the streets. He tries to get away from them but more children keep coming towards him, beating him with their fists and dragging him down the stairs...it's horrifying.
This scene is later reversed with adults ganging up on a little child, the meaning changes because the mood has become more depressing and more disturbing.
The political impact of "The Battle of Algiers" has faded since its release because many will not know about the story. The emotional impact lives on through the film and the films that would come later on.
It's a mesmerizing look at how desperate times do indeed lead to desperate measures.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones