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:: The Battle of Algiers

The Battle Of Algiers is a remarkable and powerful movie. It was filmed in 1965 and described the tumultuous events of only a few years earlier which led to the French quitting their colony of Algeria. It is compelling and the situation is as relevant and as contemporary now as when filmed forty years ago. Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo was invited in 1965 by an Algerian revolutionary leader Saadi Yacef to make a movie about the Algerian insurrection, based on Yacef's memoirs.

The movie which resulted tells the story of the half-dozen years leading up to the French giving Algeria its independence in 1962, after more than 130 years of colonial rule. It's a bloody story, of oppression and shootings and bombings, and of brutal retaliation from the special French squad of paratroopers brought in to maintain control of Algeria's capital city, Algiers. Given that Pontecorvo was a left-wing film-maker who detested colonialism, it's only natural that the film is told very firmly from the Algerian point of view.

The movie was made with the total co-operation of Algier's citizens, who flocked to the streets in their thousands to work as extras to tell their story of revolt. French actor Jean Martin seems to be the only professional actor in the cast, playing the ultra-professional and ruthless Paratrooper leader Colonel Mathieu. The rest of the cast seem to be amateurs - but you could never tell. Their performances are terrific.

Note the exceptional music score by Ennio Morricone and the fact that this film scored three Academy Award nominations in 1969.

This DVD provides us with a Photo Gallery and a fine 58-minute documentary, Return to Algiers, in which Pontecorvo returns to Algiers thirty years after shooting his movie, to find a country at crisis-point, with fundamentalists and moderates feuding and with the general population, so welcoming three decades earlier, now distrusting all Westerners with cameras.

The combination of the movie and the Return to Algiers documentary makes a worthwhile package.

French/Arabic language.

DVD Extras

- Return to Algiers - documentary with director and his son as they return to Algeria.
- Poster gallery
- Production stills
- Theatrical trailer