Saturday, November 1, 2014
The Battle of Algiers (1966) by Gillo Pontecorvo is not a documentary. It's entirely scripted and acted (top still: some of the characters trapped by security forces behind an apartment wall), relating events in the war for Algerian independence against the French in the 1950s. But its verite-style black-and-white footage gives it a certain realism; re-enacted scenes of crowded demonstrations are some of the most powerful in the film. Echoes of contemporary events also prevent the film from seeming dated. The scene of the bombing of a house on a residential street in the middle of the city, for example, recalled news images of homes shelled in Gaza during the summer of 2014. The film's plot depends on building suspense, such as the sequence of local women activists in Western clothes (second still) getting ready to carry out violent attacks. The film gives characters representing the French colonial government and military the opportunity to make their case for colonialism (bottom still), allowing viewers draw their own conclusions.