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The Algerian War of Independence was a complicated anticolonial collision in which the tactical interests of the French political elite, the economic reasons of Pied-Noir (the local bourgeoisie in the third and fourth generation), and the traditional motives of all wars were closely intertwined. The movie focuses on the conflict in the North African region, which showed the "double standards" of French Republic and especially General de Gaulle (who came to power at the peak of the "Algerian campaign"). The former documentary director Gillo Pontecorvo professionally shows the sparks that occurred in Algeria among the locals. These sparks soon broke out in a very controversial national liberation movement. The Battle of Algiers is based on the memoirs of Yacef Saadi ‑ one of the leaders of the National Liberation Front. Yacef Saadi was both a producer and an actor in this movie. Turning the crowd into a genuine entity, the Italian director embodies the belief that cinema as an art of the masses can be not only revolutionary but democratic.
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The Battle of Algiers shows the war from both French and Algerian perspectives. French Foreign Legion was withdrawn from Vietnam, where it suffered a crushing defeat. Now the army needs to prove its strength on the African continent. The clash with the forces of the Algerian army causes an explosion. In this conflict, both sides take an uncompromising stance and evil has a chain reaction. The voltage grows rhythmically from one terrorist attack to another.
The Battle of Algiers was shot with the direct support of the Algerian government (already independent). The picture is stuck in the intersection of the political, historical, and "private" cinema, turning from an artificial narrative into a chronicle of the actual events. Notably, the spirit of classic Italian neorealism is particularly significant. Pontecorvo aims to show everything without unnecessary indulgences in one or the other direction; he wants to look into the very depths of the birth of the revolution, to understand and to open the real life of the Arab areas to the viewer. The director is quite objective; he shows the terrible things executed both by the terrorists and by French security forces. The dirty methods used by the colonialists as well as the freedom fighters have clear explanation. The director is trying to say that it is just the job for an ordinary soldier who must obey orders, while these methods are just a conventional way of opposing the external force for his opponents.
Pontecorvo's movie not only calls for rebelling by the lawlessness and brutality of the French command. This is the reconstruction of the logic of civil war ‑ minimalist by its form and maximalist by the event-saturation. The director is trying to say that the heroism is for teenagers, enthusiastic singles, who consider themselves powerful members of the society. Nobody has prohibited the common truth ‑ divide and conquer regardless of what is wrong and who is right. In the best tradition of neorealism, the director`s sympathy is on the side of the ordinary Algerian people dancing in front of the cordon with the banned flags in their hands. In this movie, the war is shown without the unnecessary romanticism: Muslim women carry bombs in their handbags; children cannot read yet, but already know how to handle guns. There are many other details that show that the war is something that can happen anywhere and nobody can hide from it.
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The events shown in The Battle of Algiers are so authentic and realistic that the audience may think that the whole movie is an accidentally found documentary chronicle of the events of the Algerian revolution. Undoubtedly, The Battle of Algiers will be topical until the concepts of poverty and injustice, violence and terror, occupation and extremism disappear from the dictionaries.
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