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The Battle of Algiers: The Criterion Collection [Blu-ray] (Version française)

Brahim Haggiag , Jean Martin , Gillo Potecorvo    Unrated   Blu-ray
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Product Description


Director Gillo Pontecorvo's 1966 movie The Battle of Algiers concerns the violent struggle in the late 1950s for Algerian independence from France, where the film was banned on its release for fear of creating civil disturbances. Certainly, the heady, insurrectionary mood of the film, enhanced by a relentlessly pulsating Ennio Morricone soundtrack, makes for an emotionally high temperature throughout. Decades later, the advent of the "war against terror" has only intensified the film's relevance.

Shot in a gripping, quasi-documentary style, The Battle of Algiers uses a cast of untrained actors coupled with a stern voiceover. Initially, the film focuses on the conversion of young hoodlum Ali La Pointe (Brahim Haggiag) to F.L.N. (the Algerian Liberation Front). However, as a sequence of outrages and violent counter-terrorist measures ensue, it becomes clear that, as in Eisenstein's October, it is the Revolution itself that is the true star of the film.

Pontecorvo balances cinematic tension with grimly acute political insight. He also manages an evenhandedness in depicting the adversaries. He doesn't flinch from demonstrating the civilian consequences of the F.L.N.'s bombings, while Colonel Mathieu, the French office brought in to quell the nationalists, is played by Jean Martin as a determined, shrewd, and, in his own way, honorable man. However, the closing scenes of the movie--a welter of smoke, teeming street demonstrations, and the pealing white noise of ululations--leaves the viewer both intellectually and emotionally convinced of the rightfulness of the liberation struggle. This is surely among a handful of the finest movies ever made. --David Stubbs

Product Description

One of the most influential political films in history, The Battle of Algiers, by Gillo Pontecorvo (Kapò), vividly re-creates a key year in the tumultuous Algerian struggle for independence from the occupying French in the 1950s. As violence escalates on both sides, children shoot soldiers at point-blank range, women plant bombs in cafés, and French soldiers resort to torture to break the will of the insurgents. Shot on the streets of Algiers in documentary style, the film is a case study in modern warfare, with its terrorist attacks and the brutal techniques used to combat them. Pontecorvo’s tour de force has astonishing relevance today.

• High-definition digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Marcello Gatti, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
• Gillo Pontecorvo: The Dictatorship of Truth, a documentary narrated by literary critic Edward Said
• Marxist Poetry: The Making of “The Battle of Algiers,” a documentary featuring interviews with Pontecorvo, Gatti, composer Ennio Morricone, and others
• Interviews with Spike Lee, Mira Nair, Julian Schnabel, Steven Soderbergh, and Oliver Stone on the film’s influence, style, and importance
• Remembering History, a documentary reconstructing the Algerian experience of the battle for independence
• “États d’armes,” a documentary excerpt featuring senior French military officers recalling the use of torture and execution to combat the Algerian rebellion
• “The Battle of Algiers”: A Case Study, a video piece featuring U.S. counterterrorism experts
• Gillo Pontecorvo’s Return to Algiers, a documentary in which the filmmaker revisits the country after three decades of independence
• Production gallery
• Theatrical and rerelease trailers
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Peter Matthews, excerpts from Algeria’s National Liberation Front leader Saadi Yacef’s original account of his arrest, excerpts from the film’s screenplay, a reprinted interview with cowriter Franco Solinas, and biographical sketches of key figures in the French-Algerian War

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The War Is Won But Peace Is Lost March 25 2004
Format:VHS Tape
I recommend this movie, given its outstanding quality, but also because of its actual message: a war is won militarily in an Arab country, but with no law in place and broken dignity peace is lost on the political front. This movie is important for America! It stresses the need for integrity, and lawfulness whilst occupaying foreign lands.
The movie contains several good perspectives on how to act and not to act in/with 'Arabic' countries. The Algeria war developped from general unease in the early 50ties. Algeria was part of France, yet local Algerians were not recognized as French citizens. On top of this came the question of landownership, as the arable land was controlled by European immigrants. Originally, the liberation movement started as a civil rights movement, not really different from the struggle of American Blacks during the sixties. Continued suppression of these, in my eyes, legitimate demands led to exacerbation and a deep division in the country, and incompatible futures arose in the minds of the people.
The movie is Italian-made, and started as a documentary during the Algeria war. However, the project couldn't be completed at that time. Two, three years after the war the film was completed in Algiers - as a re-enacted documentory, if you want. It comes very close to a true documentary film, and many critics in Europe rank Pontecorvo's as the best movie of its kind.
The main flow of the story reflects history correctly happened. Names are either real or slightly changed. (Commander "O" stands for colonel Ausseresse - I recommend to read his perspective on the war, too). The film, however, also tries to elaborate on the underlying psyche of the parties involved, which leads to a range of imaginative elements woven into the story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth translated thru film.... March 28 2004
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This is an extraordinary, great film and a "must see". I first saw it in U.S. theaters as a youth in the 1960's when it was first released here, and then sought it out again to gain another perspective (than that offered by the pathetic U.S. media) on current global events and the seeming widespread misunderstanding of terrorism in the world today. This film presents a graphic, fair, and thought provoking depiction of what people are driven to under extreme circumstances. The truth in this film is clearly applicable to situations around the globe today. See it.....and check your own truth.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Realism at its Best & Lessons for Iraq May 11 2004
Format:VHS Tape
by Adam Scheuer
Great works of literature speak to all ages. Does the same apply to masterpieces of cinema? The Battle Of Algiers originally came to the United States in 1967. It spoke to that era's inner-city strife and racial tensions, and the escalating campaign in Vietnam. Re-released across America in January 2004, The Battle of Algiers seems even more relevant now. Set in Algeria from 1954-1957, the film portrays the Islamic Algerian nationalist terrorist campaign, organized by the National Liberation Front (NLF), to drive out the French, who had colonized the city Algiers in 1830.
Contemporary journalists and movie reviewers are not the only commentators to have likened the guerilla uprising in Algeria to the current situation in Iraq. On October 28, 2003, former United States National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said, "If you want to understand what's going on in Iraq right now, I recommend The Battle of Algiers." Even the Pentagon screened the film in August of 2003, advertising it with a flyer that stated forebodingly: "How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film."
Irrespective of The Battle of Algiers's newfound political salience and contemporary relevance, it is simply a superb work of visual art. Filmed in 1965, the cinematography, which employs hand-held cameras, natural light, and grainy film, is so visually arresting and looks so authentic that the film seems more like a documentary than a dramatization.
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Format:VHS Tape
Change the characters and the setting, keep the script and it could be easily applied to the horrors of European colonization everywhere including South Africa, Australia, United States and Israel just to name a few.
People don't realize that the reason there are so many parallels to Palestine/Israel is that what is occurring in historic Palestine is none other than, good old-fashioned European colonization. There is no exception. Despite that many believe Israel came to be for other reasons, the only true reason was European colonization of a very attractive region with fertile soil and promiximity to the trade route. Just read atheist Theodor Herzl's Der Judenstat and you'll discover this to be true. Religious reasons came later as the campaign to populate the place needed a push, and many zionists had a hand in that push! Anyone wanting to see why violence occurs as a result of such colonization needs to view this film. I do hope someday such films will be allowed to be made about the atrocity of the colonization of Palestine and how that colonization resulted in the murderous ethnic cleansing and dispossession of the Palestinian people, a people who not only have a religious tie to the region, but also an indigenous one, something the illegal immigrants who call themselves Israelis, do not.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Another classic from Criterion
The Battle of Algiers is a classic film about urban guerilla warfare / terrorism and counter terrorism in the context of the Algerian revolution. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Daniel Silver
4.0 out of 5 stars Buyer Beware !!!!!!
I purchased this product on June 15th for the then stated price of $58.00. The purchase is to be a gift for a friend and I am sure he will be very happy with this DVD. Read more
Published on July 16 2009 by Willem Starink
5.0 out of 5 stars Ground-breaking film is a must-see
I'll review the actual film instead of rambling on about the politics. The Battle of Algiers is a ground-breaking, must-see film. Read more
Published on July 11 2004 by Clayton Whitt
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent documentary-like...
...about a FEW Algerians making believe they were fighting for independence, since the state of slavery in which they reduced ALL Algerians: slavery being both religious and... Read more
Published on July 10 2004 by philrob
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally revolutionizing
This documentary style film captures the strife and struggle that took place during this heartbreaking war. Read more
Published on July 6 2004 by Valerie T
I finally got around to seeing this 1967 film, depicting the French occupation of colonial Algiers in the 1950s, which eventually led to the independence of this Muslim nation. Read more
Published on June 24 2004 by Steven Travers
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
This gripping film is undergoing a revival because of the American occupation of Iraq. Based on real events during the Algerian revolt against the French, The Battle of Algiers... Read more
Published on June 5 2004 by R. Albin
4.0 out of 5 stars good, but a bit long
the movie i think was good, in fact really good and really well acted but in some parts is was a bit long. Read more
Published on April 30 2004 by Ben Sullivan
5.0 out of 5 stars War Realism
This is a great film and I would highly recommend it to anyone. It's a fairly accurate account of the Battle of Algiers. You really get to see the ugly side of war. Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2004 by Andrew Platek
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