A Brief Overview of the Movie
Battle for Algiersâ by Gillo Pontocorvo is considered one of the greatest political films ever made. Â Itâs neo-realist, feau documentary style initially confused audiences who were not sure if the film was a documentary or a fictionalized narrative. Â The topic of the film is the Algerian War of Independence, a struggle which took hundreds of thousands of lives, from 1945 until the final act of independence in 1962.Â Â There is a saying which goes âone manâs terrorist is another manâs freedom fighterâ and Gillo Pontocorvo went a long way in incorporating this moral ambiguity, inherent to all wars of liberation, in his own film. The film also brilliantly portrays the racial logic of colonial domination and the indigenous resistance to that domination all of which is expressed, as Franz Fanon would have it, in its purest form, through the application of ânecessaryâ violence. Â For Fanon, who was a participant in this struggle, the assertion of independence through a counter nationalist construct (the indivisibility of France and her Algerian âprovincesâ vs. Â Algeria as something separate and unique from its former French masters) created a breach in mutual understanding that was too wide to be bridged by dialogue. Â For both sides, it became an existential struggle. Violence was the only way out.
The themes in âBattle for Algiersâ are still relevant today. Â The film is still viewed by members of the U.S. military for insights on some of the counter-insurgency operations that we are currently involved with. Â The Israeli military has closely studied the Algerian War for insights on its own struggle with the Palestinians. Â And you will see things in the film that resonate with inequities here in the United States with our own criminal justice system.
1) View the film âBattle for Algiersâ by Gillo Pontocorvo (Itâs currently up on You Tube for free in French with English subtitles).
2) Write a film review on âBattle of Algiersâ drawing on your reading of Franz Fanon (âOn .Violenceâ from âWretched of the Earthâ posted in Content on BB for our class) and the discussion of colonial nationalism in Heywood (Chapter 6). Â What struck you about the film? What were your favorite scenes? Â What turned you off or annoyed you? Â How is Fanonâs thinking in âWretched of the Earthâ incorporated into the film? Â What are some expressions of themes from Fanon that you can identify in the film (be sure to elaborate fully on this)? What was the message (or messages) that Pontorcovo was trying to pass on to the public through his film?
3) Conclude with your own reactions and feelings towards the film.Your essay should run at least 4 pages, double spaced, with 1 inch margins and 12 point font size.