The Battle of Algiers (1966) – Gillo Pontecorvo

The next big title in DK Canada’s The Movie Book is a film that, perhaps, resonates with even more importance now than it did when it was first released. Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers is a fascinating, brutal, and dark watch that shows us the true face of war and it’s effect on all sides of it.

Originally commissioned by the Algerian government, the film, shot in an almost documentary style, gives us an unflinching look at the events of the 50s when the country was occupied by the French.

It depicts atrocities on both sides, the assassination of police officers, use of bombs in public spaces, brutal torture, all of it is shown, as Algiers fights for its freedom. The war tears the country apart, and though events are recreated for the film, it truly feels as if we are looking at real events as they unfold.

There is a grittiness to the detail of the film that lends it that documentary feel, that coupled with the fact that the production boasts very few professional actors, and instead was cast with people who resembled the characters they played adds a whole additional layer of texture to the film, one that, in this case, works brilliantly.

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The film has been praised since its release for its depiction of the effects of war, as well as the atrocities that occur during the clashes of ideas, and governments. It has remained controversial for just as long.

For me, it was a fantastic, engaging experience that swept me up into its narrative as I watched the story unfold, seeing Pontecorvo’s camera turn its unblinking eye on horrible and sometimes heroic events.

It paints a vivid, and true picture of the face of war, and reminds us that it is not only the soldiers who fight that are affected by it, but by everyone involved in it. It marks us all, and leaves us haunted, broken, and troubled, whether we can claim victory or not.

The film has been lauded and praised for decades, and I have little to add to the conversation because I agree with all the accolades it has garnered, all I can do is heartily recommend that you find time in your viewing schedule to watch this one.

This and other amazing titles have been expanding my knowledge of cinema, and I am loving my time with DK Books’ The Movie Book. And you will too, pick one up, and find a new cinematic favorite tonight!!

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