Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Battle of Algiers (1966)

*****
Algeria/Italy

A semi-documentary reconstruction of the National Liberation Front's revolt against the French government in Algiers in the mid-to-late 1950s.
It's a problematic movie, to be sure. A great amount of art has gone into its impeccably convincing veneer of artlessness. Its documentary techniques, along with the opportunity granted to you to follow the narrative from both the FLN and French military perspectives could very easily trick you into mistaking it for an objective account of a complex, tumultuous conflict. If there is the most minuscule shred of a leftist impulse in you, you won't be able to resist its message.
And I don't mean to sound as if I could. Pontecorvo's mastery of the mournful journalist aesthetic and the unrelenting dramatic urgency he musters up from the opening minutes won me over very quickly. And I am convinced (as was the Pentagon in 2003) that its political power and relevance is yet to wear off.

dir: Gillo Pontecorvo
wr: Gillo Pontecorvo, Franco Solinas
ph: Marcello Gati
ed: Mario Morra, Mario Serandrei
m: Ennio Morricone, Gillo Pontecorvo
cast: Brahim Hadjadj, Jean Martin, Yasef Saadi, Samia Kerbash, Ugo Paletti, Fusia El Kader, Omar

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