Friday, February 28, 2014

02/28: The Battle of Algiers

Well, unfortunately, I didn't stick to what I was going to do this month, which was review movies that dealt with 'civil rights' and 'black history' themes. But I did get around to a few. This movie I'm about to review next does have a bit to do with civil rights.

I first watched this movie as an extra credit assignment years ago when I took a World History class at SIUE. I've never heard of it at the time but I was glad that I watched it. The Battle of Algiers was based on a true story, and it was brilliantly done with re-created scenes. In other words, it is a historical film in its own right. It tried to tell both sides of the story: one side with the French Algerians, and the other with the French.

A little history lesson for those that don't know much about it: After World War II, several countries which were occupied by mostly European nations sought independence, better known as 'the anti-colonialism period'. Most of us know the story about Gandhi and India, which took place in 1947 after several years of struggle to gain their independence from the British. In the 1950s, Algeria (occupied by France) was one of the next nations to fight against colonialism. However, unlike India which chose the non-violent route, the people of the capital city Algiers decided violence was the answer. There were violent battles between the French soldiers/people and the citizens of Algeria. The film shows multiple bombings by women as well as young men murdering white policemen.

Of course, the film was very controversial as this was not shown in France the first few years. It was released in 1966 during peacetime between the two sides. As we all know, Algeria became independent even though it was not an overnight success. The French did have better fighting power until it took more strides for the other side to gain. One of the reasons it got the controversy label was because many felt it portrayed the French as bad as well as racist.

For all history buffs, this movie is for you. Especially for those who are into the 20th century historical part. This was not ever talked about much when I was in grade or high school. So for those who do not know much about the 'anti-colonialism period' in Africa, I highly recommend it.
However, this film is not for children as it contains several realistic re-enactments of violence that took place during the battles. Also, a copy is very hard to come by, even though it was issued as part of the Criterion Collection.

My rating: 8 out of 10

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