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The Battle of Algiers

Director: Gillo Pontecorvo

Algeria-Italy| 1967. English subtitles. Black and white. 117 mins.


Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo’s classic portrayal of the Algerian liberation struggle has become a model of political ?lmmaking and remains unmatched both in its emotional power and the honesty with which it lays out the positions of the opposing parties. The ?lm focuses on the revolt of the urban populous of the Casbah in Algiers and in particular on one (?ctitious) leader of the liberation movement (the FLN). Its structure and style owe much to Italian neo-realism, but, contrary to appearances, there is no use of actual newsreel footage. Similarly, although many liberal critics have praised the ?lm for its ‘balance’, The Battle of Algiers is in fact neither balanced nor impartial. As Pontecorvo has pointed out, that the balance is only structural and the ?lm’s argument is a moral one. His aim was to show the rightness of the Algerian cause and the moral bankruptcy of the French colonial regime.

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