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95 Battle of Algiers, The 
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Post Re: 95 Battle of Algiers, The 1965
I'm going to cheat a bit by directing you, the reader, over to a post I made regarding this film in the Last Movie You Watched thread.

viewtopic.php?p=24801#p24801

For the lazy among you it reads like this (with the reference to Pedro's post omitted for the would-be confused):

Quote:
I've seen the film several times and eventually started wondering about how unbiased it really is. The movie seems to treat the Algierians with greater delicacy (note the musical swells during some of the aftermath) than the French. I think the movie has some sympathies with the "terrorist" tactics and, counterintuively, this is what makes the movie so incredible. I've been on the (far) left of the political spectrum for a long time and The Battle of Algiers is emotionally resonant because it's so uncompromisingly, yet subtlely, biased toward a side that rarely gets treated with any equanimity.

But, to compound the problem, I'm biased. The thread of the mass murder depicted in Algiers is something that should absolutely be of universal interest. I believe we've since seen many acts of disgusting vengeance that parallel the actions of Algiers and, although the film doesn't go so far as to posit solutions, I'm sure that the intentions of the filmmakers were not purely documentarian. They were filming an essay.

Please, before anyone responds to this, realize that my intentions are only to make clear my views on the film. I don't want this to spiral out of control into a war of idealogies.


Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:25 am
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Post Re: 95 Battle of Algiers, The
Just watched this for the first time. Here's how I reviewed it:
Quote:
The Battle of Algiers is hellishly absorbing. It tells the story of the Algerian insurrection of the 1950s, centering on the French suppression of the rebellion in Algiers in 1956-57. Neither side comes off well, the insurgents being terrorists starting off by shooting cops, and progressing to bombing civilians. The French are no better, resorting to torture, assassination, and bombing. The French won this battle, but lost the war, although it took a few years for the FLN to regroup. The story is told in a pseudo-documentary style that is very effective; the audience is warned that the fim doesn't contain actual news footage. Definitely a classic of its kind.


I'd say it's on the side of Algerian independence (after all, it's their country), less clearly on the side of the FLN's tactics. At least the French make some effort to get the civilians out of the way before they blow up a building. This is a very influential movie, both for those wishing to rebel violently, and those who wish to suppress a rebellion violently. I just wish both sides would notice that both sides come off badly.

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Sun Dec 27, 2009 10:53 pm
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Post Re: 95 Battle of Algiers, The
The Battle of Algiers is a marvel of filmmaking. Its a film that can be broken down solely in terms of it's technical achievements, and also exclusively analyzed for it's content. The fact that the 2 combine so effectively to create one of the most informative, educational, pseudo-documentaries I've ever seen is what makes the move special. Everything comes together and everything works. Flawlessly. Some have called it a movie that's easier to appreciate than love, but what I loved about it is that its so damn well-crafted and compelling. I just don't see the disconnect between being it being appreciated but not entertaining.

This is the most "real" film I can remember seeing. While the movie is narrative driven, its almost unnoticeable because of the newsreel feel of the cinematography. The choice to shoot in black and white is fitting and gives a real "in the shit" vibe. We feel like we're a part of the action. The characterizations also go a long way in creating a sense of realism. There's nothing romanticized about anyone. The people in the picture seem just as real as the overall look of the film does. There isn't one iota of Hollywood in the movie.

Content wise, its a fantastic exploration of guerilla warfare and it's consequences. The movie gives us reasons for everything and shows a natural progression of the ascension of violence. Committing awful acts causes more awful acts to be committed - by both sides. There's no way around that, and the movie shows exactly why that happens.

Concerning the biases of the film, I think it rests slightly with the Algerians. I think it shows us that their desire for independence is a positive quality, but it stops short of condoning their terrorist tactics. I think it is more concerned with showing how the conflict escalated than it is with choosing sides. It does a wonderful job of showing just how brutal the tactics are and far the Algerians are willing to go for their independence. The French are shown as being equally brutal, yet Col. Mathieu is probably the most sympathetic character in the movie.

I saw the French more as men doing their jobs out of a sense of pride and nobility, and the Algerians as fighting for freedom. The Algerians had much more at stake, so its no surprise they ultimately prevailed. I think the music goes a long way to symbolize this idea. When the Algerians attack we hear a deep, bass-heavy drumming tune and with the French we hear the militaristic tune that Tarantino used in IB. Its like the Algerians are fighting for this base, human desire/need (freedom/independence) and the drums are used to symbolize that. The French are combative out of a sense of duty, which can be seen as a more civilized way of thinking (which isn't necessarily better), and their more complex, rich music is equally symbolic. Such contrasting viewpoints are bound to come into conflict.

A question concerning the ending: Do you guys think the film considers Ali La Pointe a martyr or a fool? He decides giving his life his the best course of action, while Jafar chooses to spare his. The movie then skips ahead 3 years later and the Algerians are rising out of nowhere? Is it because of Ali or in spite of him? Because of Jafar or in spite of him? I honestly don't know. My brain again leads me to the base desire/civilized theme. Ali and Jafar represent this idea on the Algerian side, and Jafar chooses to surrender and save his life while Ali chooses death. Did the revolution continue and end up winning because the Algerians saw Ali (and the base deisre to be free he represents) as a martyr or because they started to become more civilized in their thought, symbolized by Jafar choosing to spare his life over a "pointless death" as he calls it?

EDIT: The 3 disc Criterion edition of the film will be purchased this week. This is a heavyweight champion contender of a movie, whatever the hell that means.


Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:38 pm
Post “The Battle of Algiers” (1966)
“The Battle of Algiers” (1966)

“Algiers” is a docudrama follows individuals on both sides of the 1950’s Islamic revolution in French Algeria. Dates on the bottom of the screen indicate the dates of significant events in the revolution. The camera follows a small group of Muslim insurgents as they begin to mount attacks. These attacks begin as a one-on-one against the French police, and evolve into something very recognizable from today’s headlines. The battle-hardened French Colonel is encountering an enemy unlike the Germans or Italians he’s previously faced. His methods become more brutal in response to the attacks. The revolutionaries counter with more brutality.
This is one of a small handful of films that I would consider as “important”. Had it not been for the dates at the bottom of the screen, this film could have been made any time in the last 20 years. One scene in particular that stands out was that of a Muslim woman in a burka that the French are not allowed to touch as she passes a checkpoint -as that would be a cultural faux pas. Although she carries explosives, because of cultural sensitivity the soldiers are not allowed to search her as she passes into a neighborhood.
There is such a modern relevance to the actions on screen as to be frightening. As we in America hear, see or read news stories of the most recent IED fatalities, we may forget that this conflict is not new, nor are the methods employed.

Awf Hand gives 4 out of 4 stars.


Mon Nov 22, 2010 9:20 am
Post Re: “The Battle of Algiers” (1966)
Awf Hand wrote:
“The Battle of Algiers” (1966)

“Algiers” is a docudrama follows individuals on both sides of the 1950’s Islamic revolution in French Algeria. Dates on the bottom of the screen indicate the dates of significant events in the revolution. The camera follows a small group of Muslim insurgents as they begin to mount attacks. These attacks begin as a one-on-one against the French police, and evolve into something very recognizable from today’s headlines. The battle-hardened French Colonel is encountering an enemy unlike the Germans or Italians he’s previously faced. His methods become more brutal in response to the attacks. The revolutionaries counter with more brutality.
This is one of a small handful of films that I would consider as “important”. Had it not been for the dates at the bottom of the screen, this film could have been made any time in the last 20 years. One scene in particular that stands out was that of a Muslim woman in a burka that the French are not allowed to touch as she passes a checkpoint -as that would be a cultural faux pas. Although she carries explosives, because of cultural sensitivity the soldiers are not allowed to search her as she passes into a neighborhood.
There is such a modern relevance to the actions on screen as to be frightening. As we in America hear, see or read news stories of the most recent IED fatalities, we may forget that this conflict is not new, nor are the methods employed.

Awf Hand gives 4 out of 4 stars.



Great comments. I loved this as well. It's impossible to see this film from 45 years ago and not be amazed by the lessons we should have learned.

I'm curious, you must be awful close to finishing the top 100 by now. Loving your reviews!

Rob


Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:20 pm
Post Re: “The Battle of Algiers” (1966)
This film already has its own thread as part of the Great Movies section.

viewtopic.php?p=26255#p26255

Difficult, polarizing picture... everybody seems to like it but for greatly varying reasons.


Mon Nov 22, 2010 3:05 pm
Post Re: 95 Battle of Algiers, The
One of the most fascinating aspects of this movie is how the "terrorist" acts committed by the Algerians are presented. The movie doesn't resort to the simple-minded logic of terrorism = bad/evil, but instead chooses to show what brings these actions about. War is treated as a strategic battlefield (which it is) with two sides fighting for what they want. The Algerians are outnumbered and outsupplied, and their only choice to "compete" is to use guerilla tactics. It's like in sports when a team takes advantage of a mismatch (for instance in basketball, if a small guy is guarding a bigger guy, then the bigger guy logically uses his size to score). Guerilla warfare was the only mismatch the Algerians had in their favor. They had to even the playing field however they could. It may not be the most civil or honorable way of fighting, but when you're fighting for freedom/independence does that really matter?


Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:53 am
Post Re: 95 Battle of Algiers, The
PeachyPete wrote:
snip... They had to even the playing field however they could. It may not be the most civil or honorable way of fighting, but when you're fighting for freedom/independence does that really matter?


Absolutely, Pete.
I'm quite certain the British were highly offended when their American opponents didn't wear uniforms or line up in rows and columns and fight 'honorably'.


Tue Nov 23, 2010 11:24 am
Post Re: 95 Battle of Algiers, The
Awf Hand wrote:
PeachyPete wrote:
snip... They had to even the playing field however they could. It may not be the most civil or honorable way of fighting, but when you're fighting for freedom/independence does that really matter?


Absolutely, Pete.
I'm quite certain the British were highly offended when their American opponents didn't wear uniforms or line up in rows and columns and fight 'honorably'.



Funny, we get offended over the strangest of things. It's our way.


Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:51 pm
Post Re: 95 Battle of Algiers, The
PeachyPete wrote:
One of the most fascinating aspects of this movie is how the "terrorist" acts committed by the Algerians are presented. The movie doesn't resort to the simple-minded logic of terrorism = bad/evil, but instead chooses to show what brings these actions about. War is treated as a strategic battlefield (which it is) with two sides fighting for what they want. The Algerians are outnumbered and outsupplied, and their only choice to "compete" is to use guerilla tactics. It's like in sports when a team takes advantage of a mismatch (for instance in basketball, if a small guy is guarding a bigger guy, then the bigger guy logically uses his size to score). Guerilla warfare was the only mismatch the Algerians had in their favor. They had to even the playing field however they could. It may not be the most civil or honorable way of fighting, but when you're fighting for freedom/independence does that really matter?


No. You're right. Since The Battle of Algiers is 17-movies-in-1 it's easy to paint the action in light of 9/11 (when the movie received a much-needed kick... it wasn't available on DVD prior to this) or Palestians or so on and so forth but, movie that it is, manages to be elastic enough to never risk cursed datedness. Nice that the Cache thread and this one are on top of the Recent Posts pile. They would make an excellent double feature.


Tue Nov 23, 2010 3:09 pm
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Post Re: 95 Battle of Algiers, The
The Battle of Algiers

I'm winding down on the top 100. I only have 30 or so left.

I knew nothing about this film going into it. I was encouraged by the inherent excitement of the title. At the beginning, it is clear that this is an underdog story told through the context of French colonialism. Therefore, I was set to root for the FLN. Fuck the French. Sure, they go to some extremes to purge their ranks, but it's pious Muslim Africa, and it's war, man... shit happens. I stuck with that during the police shootings. It was even further reinforced during the bombing of the Casbah.

And then the FLN started bombing public places.

It quickly became clear that this film was challenging me. I had understood the cinematography of gritty closeups to be a romanticized version of the resistance - and then suddenly the same technique was used on the European civilians. The film makes it obvious that these are the tactics of war; the lines between terrorism and rebellion quickly blur, and both sides are equally guilty of gory and monstrous acts. If this was a film by a third party years after the actual events had occurred, I would take it as a lesson in warfare. But it isn't. It was partially written and acted by an actual leader of the real life FLN - the man who played Jafar, Saadi Yacef. Perhaps he wanted to show what is necessary for a successful revolution. Perhaps it is a cautionary tale.

The Battle of Algiers is more essay than film, as Pedro stated. We get to see the faces of those affected. We get to hear from those who are indoctrinated into the cause, those who will die for a cause they don't completely understand, and those who just want to keep their families safe. Above all of this is the leadership of each side, which is used more as a tool to explain the motivations of each faction than as characters. The indoctrinated FLN leader swears that violence is the only solution that will be taken seriously. The French Colonel uses every tactic necessary, including torture. What I found fascinating was that the Colonel admits that he understands both sides of the situation, yet he continues with his methods because he knows it is the only way to achieve victory. At one point, he states that the success of the mission in Algiers rests not on his shoulders, but on those of the French people, and whether or not they can handle the responsibility. There is a sense of tragic realism in this truth, as the French had lost control of Vietnam not ten years previous to this film (and the actor who played the Colonel, Jean Martin, was a veteran of this conflict). But you get the sense that the dialogue and structure of this film was meant to be extrapolated to any and all situations applicable. Today, in 2012, I think of Afghanistan, Iraq. I think of all the helpful lesson this film offers. We can win, we can suppress the rebels - we just have to be willing to cope with the results. And without explicitly saying so, this film implies that no one ever will.

3.5/4

I would like to add a note here about my ratings in general. Lately, as a result of only watching films from the top 1000, my ratings have been significantly skewed right. Obviously, this has to do with the quality of these films and how valuable this list is. The point I would like to make, however, is that the elusive perfect 4/4 for me is not based on the perfection of the technical aspects of the film or the influence it has had. I use a perfect score to show how a film has truly captivated me. It doesn't happen often, and I don't think it should. A 3.5/4 means I appreciate all that the film accomplishes, yet I am not moved by it. For The Battle of Algiers, I acknowledge its authenticity, its effective and humanistic grittiness, as well as its eternal lessons, but it lacks the revelations on the human condition that I so crave. I suppose we all want different things.


Sat May 12, 2012 4:04 am
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Post Re: 95 Battle of Algiers, The
Quote:
I'm winding down on the top 100. I only have 30 or so left.


which ones? some aren't on dvd.


Mon May 14, 2012 4:15 pm
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Post Re: 95 Battle of Algiers, The
Let's see, I'll go through the list. It's actually way fewer left than I thought.

Stagecoach
Ikiru
Sansho the Bailiff
Aguirre: The Wrath of God
Annie Hall
Madame de...
Playtime
Voyage in Italy
Pickpocket
Letter from an Unknown Woman
Bringing up Baby
The Man with a Movie Camera
Rome, Open City

So that's 13 left.


Mon May 14, 2012 4:58 pm
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Post Re: 95 Battle of Algiers, The
you've seen Children of Paradise? have you posted a review? was curious about that one, one of the few I haven't seen.

surprised about Annie Hall, have you seen any Woody Allen films before?
a number of posters here have said they've never seen one of his films.

Letter From An Unknown Woman isn't available on dvd.


Mon May 14, 2012 5:14 pm
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Post Re: 95 Battle of Algiers, The
calvero wrote:
you've seen Children of Paradise? have you posted a review? was curious about that one, one of the few I haven't seen.

surprised about Annie Hall, have you seen any Woody Allen films before?
a number of posters here have said they've never seen one of his films.

Letter From An Unknown Woman isn't available on dvd.


I haven't posted a review, but I should. It's been over a year since I saw it, so I would have to watch it again.

I've seen plenty of Woody Allen, including Manhattan and Midnight in Paris. My favorite is Crimes and Misdemeanors.

As for Letter From An Unknown Woman, there are ways to find such things, you just have to look in the right places.


Tue May 15, 2012 1:36 am
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