It was 1966 when the film “The Battle of Algiers” (La battaglia di Algeri) was released to the masses. A war film about the war in Algiers covering what took place between November 1954 through December 1960, during the Algerian War of Independence and director Gillo Pontecorvo covered both sides between the Muslim Algerians fighting for Independence and the French who were fighting against terrorism. The film is regarded as an important classic and is Pontecorvo’s masterpiece. The film won the Venice Film Festival Grand Prize, nominated for three Academy Awards for “Best Screenplay”, “Best Director” and “Best Foreign Language Film”.
The film gained notoriety as it had the reputation for inspiring political violence and tactics from the film were copied by the Black Panthers and Provisional Irish Republican Army. The film was banned in France for five years and the original American and British releases cut any scenes involving the French torture of Muslim Algerians.
But the film was also looked at as useful for training as the film was shown as part of counter-insurgency classes in the 60′s. Shown in Israel by the Left-Wing to show that Israel’s occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was futile. And in 2003, the film was screened at the Pentagon with a flier for the screening being circulated as “How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film.”
As for “The Battle of Algiers”, Pontecorvo’s film is those type of films that makes you think… can you blame either side? No one is innocent in this film. Both sides have committed atrocities towards each other.
There is nothing bad I can say about this release at all. “The Battle of Algiers” is a must-buy, must-own release for cinema fans!