Monday, October 8, 2012

Movie of the Week – The Battle of Algiers

This week’s movie is The Battle of Algiers (1966).

The drama details the bloodiest uprising in modern history – the FNL revolts against the colonialist French government for a free Algeria. The film is written and directed by Italian filmmaker Gillo Pontecorvo (who also worked on the score). Pontecorvo’s background is mostly in documentary filmmaking, which accounts for the film’s very realist feel – as if all the action is be shown in a series of newsreels or footage shot on the day during the actual events (it seems so real that there is even a title card at the beginning telling viewers that none of the footage is newsreel or documentary). He worked with composer Ennio Morricone, creating wonderful and memorable musical accompaniment (here is a clip – which you may also recognize from Inglourious Basterds). Pontecorvo also worked with frequent collaborators cinematographer Marcello Gatti and production designer Sergio Canevari. The cast is mostly made up of unknown actors, but Jean Martin has a principal role. The Battle of Algiers has served as a major influence on how gritty war/political dramas have been filmed ever since, and many filmmakers. It is also politically relevant today – even being screened in the Pentagon for officers and civilian experts regarding Iraq (“How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas”). It is a must-see for fans of political dramas and war films. Check out the trailer.

Available on Blu-ray, DVD and Streaming

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