The Battle of Algiers: The Criterion Collection [Blu-ray] (Version française)
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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.
TWO-DISC BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• 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
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Criterion as usual has put out a great product. The film image and sound quality has been cleaned & restored to their usual high standards. The DVD comes with a booklet containing information about the film, it's subject matter and the director; and second to the actual film is a second DVD containing some very interesting interviews with some of the historical figures referenced in the film. There's also an interesting Italian t.v. documentary about Pontecorvo's return to Algiers in the early 90's - when the islamist F.I.S. crisis was exploding.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on July 16 2009 by Willem Starink
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 morePublished on July 11 2004 by Clayton Whitt
...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 morePublished on July 10 2004 by philrob
This documentary style film captures the strife and struggle that took place during this heartbreaking war. Read morePublished 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 morePublished on June 24 2004 by Steven Travers
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 morePublished on June 5 2004 by R. Albin
the movie i think was good, in fact really good and really well acted but in some parts is was a bit long. Read morePublished on April 30 2004 by Ben Sullivan
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... Read morePublished on March 28 2004
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... Read morePublished on March 24 2004 by World Music Fan
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