The Battle of Algiers (7/7/12)

Movie One Hundred Sixty

The Battle of Algiers is a film that details a few  key years of the Algerian War to liberate the North African country from the French government.

The plot of The Battle of Algiers centers around the formation of a guerrilla revolutionary group (the FLN) in the Casbah and eventually the civil war for Algerian independence. The story is told as a flashback from the perspective of Ali, a leading FLN member who is about to be captured at the beginning of the film. After the war began and progressed, the French Government used increasingly extreme measures to stop the liberation front and although they win the battle of Algiers, they do not win the war (history spoiler alert).

The Battle of Algiers is one of the most interesting and powerful films I have ever seen. While it is a film, the style of shooting is so closely documentarian that it’s almost scary. Some actual footage is spliced with the film to add an eerie depth of realism. The end result is something that is unlike almost any film I’ve watched before. I was unaware of most of the general history of the independence of Algeria so the film acts as a history lesson as well.

A positive of not knowing much of the history behind the film is that the contents of the Criterion set includes an enormous amount of extra content. In fact, the Blu-Ray set for The Battle of Algiers is two discs and the entire second disc is a history lesson. In addition to an entire disc of learning, the booklet included is much larger than normal and also includes historic accounts of the film’s events. It’s a remarkable set and should be seen by everyone, regardless of knowledge of the Algerian War. Watching the film first then boning up on the real events is ideal since it will bolster your appreciation of what you just viewed.

The Battle of Algiers is a film that has to be seen to be appreciated. The unique style of the film is interesting and the events, while historical, still have strong meaning today. Go buy the Criterion and spend an afternoon getting educated through film.

I give it 5 “Long Live Algeria!”s out of 5.

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