‘The Battle of Algiers’

Social realism extraordinaire, The Battle of Algiers is a stunningly shot, simply told tale of armed insurrection against colonial French rule.

Shot in a grainy black and white, director Gillo Pontecorvo (Kapò, Ogro) weaves archival news footage into the fictional documentary-style narrative as Colonel Mathieu (Jean Martin – The Day of the Jackal, My Name is Nobody) tightens the military grip on the city. Organised strikes and demonstrations are met with violence and torture leading to the bombings of cafes and milkbars as the struggle escalates.

Pontecorvo marshalls his predominantly non-professional cast to astonishing effect, whether it’s local youth moving through the narrow passages of the city or the extraordinary choreographed troop manoeuvres as they close down the Muslim quarter. Seen from both sides, The Battle of Algiers is a powerful and brutal docudrama commissioned by the Algerian government to highlight cause and effect in the use of violence.

Nominated for the 1967 best foreign language film, nominated for 2 Oscars in 1969 for best director and original screenplay.

Rating: 90%