Movie Review: The Battle of Algiers (1966)

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.

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