Review: ‘The Battle of Algiers’

Graphic, straightforward, realistic re-enactment [from a screen story by Gillo Pontecorvo and Franco Solinas] of the events that led to the birth, in 1962, of a free Algerian nation, pic is also the first feature film ever made in Algiers by Algerians - teamed here with Italian talent, notably director Gillo Pontecorvo and producer Antonio Musu. It's a dedicated effort with importance as a 'document.'

Graphic, straightforward, realistic re-enactment [from a screen story by Gillo Pontecorvo and Franco Solinas] of the events that led to the birth, in 1962, of a free Algerian nation, pic is also the first feature film ever made in Algiers by Algerians – teamed here with Italian talent, notably director Gillo Pontecorvo and producer Antonio Musu. It’s a dedicated effort with importance as a ‘document.’

Backdrop of documentary-like treatment of Algerian strife between 1954 and final liberation in 1962 is shown via restaging skillfully blended with newsreel clips. Grey reel quality gives pic an authentic flavor throughout, and adds to dramatic impact of many of its sequences.

Up front, but not as spotlit as in usual pix of this kind, are some key characters drawn from life but guided here to heighten dramatic effect. Thus the chutist general whose all-out tactics make things tough for the Algerian rebels in the city, plus a handful of rebels themselves, stoically, heroically battling seemingly unbeatable odds.

There are no stars and there is no glamor.

The Battle of Algiers

Italy - Algeria

Production

Igor/Casbah. Director Gillo Pontecorvo; Producer Antonio Musu, Yacef Saadi; Screenplay Franco Solinas; Camera Marcello Gatti; Editor Mario Serandrei, Mario Morra; Music Ennio Morricone, Gillo Pontecorvo

Crew

(B&W) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1966. Running time: 122 MIN.

With

Jean Martin Yacef Saadi Brahim Haggiag Tommaso Neri Fawzia El-Kader Michele Kerbash

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