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The Battle of Algiers (1966/Italy) - (Movies To See Before You Die - World Cinema)

03 Aug, 2010 | Movies To See Before You Die / World Cinema

Fictional account of revolution and terrorism has been the subject of several films made all over the world in the recent two decades in particular. But there were not many films made on the realistic tragic history and revolt faced by the countries way back in the 60s. The Battle of Algiers (Italy) stands tall as one of the most authentic, experimental and truthful movies of its times, made on the subject of the public revolt, guerrilla fighters and many scary events witnessed in the region during the mid-50s against the French government.
Partially based on the memoirs wriiten in prison by Yacef Saadi (who also acts in the film), The Battle of Algiers is a historically authentic war film co-written and directed by Gillo Pontecorvo, which also got caught in a socio-political controversy around its release in the mid-sixties. Shot on location, it is a docu-drama kind of feature which makes you aware of the inside truth behind the Algerian Revolution in its pre-independence era. Interestingly shot in Black & White format, the film does take a few moments to sink in, but literally grabs you after the initial introductory minutes showcasing breath-taking bomb blasts sequences, ruthless killings and torture involving both the revolutionists as well as the Police authorities. 
The makers thoughtfully chose to cast all non-professional Algerians (apart from the main lead) for whom all dubbing was done later and the depiction of chaos within the public on screen, truly looks like a real-event footage used instead of a scene enacted by the actors. Interestingly, such was the impact of the film’s realistic cinematography, innovative shot-technique, crowd sequences and sound used in particular, that the American and more releases had to carry a notice saying – “Not One Foot of Newsreel has been used”. The film’s highly impressive score was composed by Ennio Morricone who was called in at a later stage majorly contributing in the project and it is due to these masters’ collective effort that the cult film is now included in the greatest movies of all time lists of many critics, magazines and institutions. 
Fetching reputed nominations for 3 Oscars, the masterpiece also has a connection with the present-day master filmmaker Christopher Nolan – as it has been reported as a classic that influenced him while visualising a few of his recent creations.
However, I would like to quote and refer it as an immensely influential project in context of the last decade’s Mumbai terrorists attack seen in 2009. And the reason for relating the film with this unforgettable inhuman act is that while watching this classic I found its few sequences exactly similar to what was seen in these unexpected and never before kind of attacks. The bomb blast in a famous Café of the city full of regular clients and merciless firing on the people walking on the road out of a moving van can be seen in The Battle of Algiers too in the same manner as witnessed in the November 2009 attack in Mumbai.
Apart from this strange real-life similarity, this is an important film as it enlightens the viewer about the freedom struggle in Algiers (which many of us might not be familiar with) and also brilliantly portrays the tough times experienced by the people who faced the heat of those uncertain times. Also, while watching the film, I somehow strongly felt that this must have been there at the back of the mind of Anurag Kashyap too, when he was making his own classic Black Friday on the subject of early 90s Mumbai blasts.
In all, this is a must-watch gem that should be essentially seen by every true student/follower of cinema and the ones willing to know more about the world history and its bitter truths in a visibly authentic manner. Indisputably one of the best movies made on the historical revolution of a country, The Battle of Algiers is highly recommended and should not be missed.
Directed By Gillo Pontecorvo.
Original Score by Ennio Morricone
UPDATED – March 2020
(While updating the article in March 2020, the film could be seen at Youtube with English subtitles.) 

Tags : The Battle of Algiers (1966) Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Movies To See Before You Die list by Bobby Sing, Classics of World Cinema, Reviews of Movies on Historical Revolution, Must See Movies List By Bobby Sing, Not Be Missed World Classics at bobbytalkscinema.com
03 Aug 2010 / Comments ( 6 )

Hello Bobby ,
It s always a pleasure to read your reviews ...
thank you for speaking about this film.
but i was a little uncomfortable when you compare the algerian fighters for their indepedance with terrorists .........there is no similarity .....

Bobby Sing

Hi Fatiha,

Thanks for your comment and seriously I never ever meant any comparison between the two extremes. It equally hurts me also as if somebody is calling Bhagat Singh a terrorist.

So please dont take it that way. The only thing I mentioned was that may be the idea of creating a chaos was taken from there by the terrorists.......and thats was my only intention in referring it.

I hope you understand what i wanted to say.

Waiting for your reply....



Hello Bobby ,
Thanks for saying that ...you Indian have also like the algerians a colonial past so you are the personne who will understand the best the difference between terrorist and freedom fighters ....
I am glad you liked this film

Bobby Sing

Thanks Fatiha for your understanding........

Here I would also like to inform that I wrote another post on the Indian Music famous in Algeria few weeks back on the info shared by yourself. So do chek that out too in the "Did You Know" section.

Hope you like that too......Cheers!

Did you know that a real fighter named Yacef Saadi (one of the leaders of Algeria\'s National Liberation Front) played a character in the film modeled on his own experiences in the battle.

Bobby Sing

Thanks Fatiha for the valuable update as I wasnt aware of that really.
Keep visiting and writing in.


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