Film enthusiasts and historians, the next few months will prove to be very exciting! For the first time ever, two of the best, most classic movies ever made will be heading to Blu-Ray. The first, All Quiet on the Western Front, hits shelves on February 14th (and will be in DigiBook Packaging). This film, best known as one of the first accurate depictions of what warfare is really all about, premiered in 1930, and shocked audiences with the graphic brutality of war, which was a far cry from the Hollywoodesque romanticism of war that had become a mainstay of theater at that point in time. It was so shocking that it was actually banned in Germany, though mainly for political reasons, and its unflattering portrayal of a losing German Army, the nation blamed for starting World War I, which was punished severely by the Treaty of Versailles in 1918. The second of these films is one that deals with the luxury of the most famous ship in history, the Titanic, and the subsequent disaster of its sinking, in one of the most accurate tellings of the story, based on the book by legendary author Walter Lord, titled, A Night to Remember. This film will be released a month later, on March 27.
This movie was highly recommended to me, mainly because of the fact that I swear by films the Criterion Collection releases onto DVD. They always deal with good movies, and they will never let one slip by that is not deserving of their brand name. The Battle of Algiers was everything I expected it to be– gritty, realistic, and emotional.
This film depicts a series of battles and attacks during the Algerian War between 1954 and 1962; the bloodiest civil war in history, in which Algerian revolutionaries were tired with French occupation in their native country. Director Gillo Pontecorvo follows around the leaders of the National Liberation Front, and what they had to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
More disturbing than that is the portrayal of the French soldiers, led by Colonel Mathieu, played by Jean Martin. These soldiers will go to any means necessary to extract information from captured Liberation Front rebels, including torture. It was for that reason that this film was banned, and then rarely shown in France, until the two scenes of torture were taken out of the final cut.
The entire movie can now be viewed via the Criterion Collection disc, and once again, they did an excellent job with the film restoration.
Over all, I will give this movie an 8 out of 10, because it kept me entertained and interested for its entire two-hour duration. There used to be a tag line attached to this film that, “Not one piece of authentic newsreel footage was used!” because the film is just that realistic. This is a great movie to watch in order to learn a little bit about other wars that rarely get any time devoted to them in schools and television documentaries.
And as a little fun fact, this remains the only movie in Academy Award history to be nominated for Oscars in two separate years, although it did not win any.