The Essential Movie Library #50: The Battle of Algiers (1966) - The Culture Files Blog - Los Angeles magazine
 
 

The Essential Movie Library #50: The Battle of Algiers (1966)

Director/co-writer Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers was banned in France until the mid-1970s.

Some civil war must have raged within director/co-writer Gillo Pontecorvo, between the revolutionary who chooses sides in this story of resistance, and the poet who has enough integrity not to romanticize the side he's chosen. So uncompromising that it became a training film for all sides of guerrilla warfare (including U.S. troops in Iraq four decades after its release) and shot with the brutal dispassion of the documentarian that the Italian filmmaker was (with Ennio Morricone's most austere score), this was a shock to American radicals in its decade including the Black Panthers, given its cool survey of liberation’s price and the cumulative cost to the human spirit no matter whose side is right or winning—insurrectionist bombs blowing up cafes full of women and young people, and offering no excuses for it.

The picture’s single professional actor, Jean Martin, plays the leader of paratroopers quelling the rebellion in the French colony of Algeria, and his fascism is shot through with the steely charisma that make totalitarianism so irresistible, barely a drawl away from some of the cavalry leaders in John Ford's horse-soldier epics. The Battle of Algiers was banned in France until the mid-1970s when it finally was released in a censored version, perhaps because that most cinema-conscious of countries could no longer stand being so irrelevant as to not have seen it.

Read them all:
The Essential Movie Library #49: Notorious
The Essential Movie Library #48: Wings of Desire
The Essential Movie Library #47: L'Avventura
The Essential Movie Library #46: Malcolm X
The Essential Movie Library #45: In the Mood for Love
The Essential Movie Library #44: Touch of Evil
The Essential Movie Library #43: Once Upon A Time in the West
The Essential Movie Library #42: Belle de Jour
The Essential Movie Library #41: Apocalypse Now
The Essential Movie Library #40: Out of the Past
The Essential Movie Library #39: Branded to Kill
The Essential Movie Library #38: The General
The Essential Movie Library #37: Lord of the Rings
The Essential Movie Library #36: Aguirre, the Wrath of God
The Essential Movie Library #35: Raging Bull
The Essential Movie Library #34: The Rules of the Game
The Essential Movie Library #33: Chinatown 
The Essential Movie Library #32: Stalker
The Essential Movie Library #31: Weekend
The Essential Movie Library #30: Some Like It Hot 
The Essential Movie Library #29: Red River
The Essential Movie Library #28: The Passenger
The Essential Movie Library #27: Singin' in the Rain
The Essential Movie Library #26: Heat
The Essential Movie Library #25: L'Atalante
The Essential Movie Library #24: Sunrise
The Essential Movie Library #23: His Girl Friday
The Essential Movie Library #22: Black Narcissus
The Essential Movie Library #21: Blade Runner
The Essential Movie Library #20: Persona
The Essential Movie Library #19: The Shop Around the Corner
The Essential Movie Library #18: Lost Highway
The Essential Movie Library #17: Tokyo Story
The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2

The Essential Movie Library #15: City Lights
The Essential Movie Library #14: Seven Samurai
The Essential Movie Library #13: Lawrence of Arabia
The Essential Movie Library #12: Citizen Kane
The Essential Movie Library #11: Jules and Jim
The Essential Movie Library #10: My Darling Clementine 
The Essential Movie Library #9: Double Indemnity 
The Essential Movie Library #8: That Obscure Object of Desire 
The Essential Movie Library #7: 2001: A Space Odyssey 
The Essential Movie Library #6: Casablanca
The Essential Movie Library #5: The Lady Eve
The Essential Movie Library #4: The Third Man 
The Essential Movie Library #3: The Passion of Joan of Arc 
The Essential Movie Library #2: Vertigo 
The Essential Movie Library #1: The Godfather Trilogy

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