“The battle of Algiers” by Gillo Pontecorvo

This article is also available in: Italiano

One of the most epic films ever in the history of cinema, a timeless work, capable of enchanting yet again on the screen more than 50 years later. The story of the Algerian revolution seen from one of its most iconic places: the Casbah.

The battle of Algiers

Algiers, 7th October 1957. Colonel Mathieu’s paratroopers surround the hiding place of the only survivor of the Algerian National Liberation Front, Ali La Pointe, and threaten to blow up the house with dynamite. While awaiting death, the latter retraces with memory the events in which, as an exploiter of women and a common prejudice, he matured into a man aware of his right to freedom. Three years earlier, in November 1954, the struggle had begun by freeing the Casbah from the germs of the underworld to make the Arab citadel the stronghold of the revolution: then it had exploded with individual clashes and terrorist actions that had provoked reactions from the French population.

Battle Algiers
Colonel Philippe Mathieu

In January 1957 Colonel Mathieu and the paratroopers had arrived who, with military and police action not devoid of intelligent organization and not alien to torture systems, had progressively dismantled the Algerian organization and climbed the pyramid of connections to to isolate La Pointe and discover its hiding place. Dead Alì La Pointe, the revolution appears to have died down. But in December 1960 everything started again almost by magic and two years later Algeria gained independence.

Italian tribute to revolutionaries

Gillo Pontecorvo’s film is absolutely one of the masterpieces of world cinema for heroism and realism. The Algerian liberation struggle is seen through the eyes of a Casbah boy, a boy like many, who grew up in the blackest misery. It will be the latter to call him, to turn his life upside down forever, in the face of the promise of freedom for the oppressed and exploited. This place in the film takes on a soul of its own, an Algerian stronghold that stands silent and imposing in front of the French. A sleeping creature, ready to explode and overwhelm any of its conquerors.

Battle Algiers
Ali La Pointe with his revolutionary comrades

A metaphor for an incredible people, indomitable and rebellious in all its expressions and cultures. The film is a tribute to this epic resistance, determined to fight the foreign invader to the end, whatever the cost. The director is not forgetting, in fact, in showing the tortures to which the Algerian patriots were placed, in a war still remembered for cruelty and ferocity carried out. Blood shed for a great dream, achieved only by virtue of incredible sacrifices and firmness of mind. The most important message, however, is that relating to the distance of time between the end of Ali and the birth of the country. After years in which the revolution seemed sedated, it broke out in all its momentum, ending in glory in 1962.

Tomorrow we will continue the review dedicated to Algeria with Lalla Fatma N’Soumer, probably the one who most absolutely embodied this country. Follow us on our facebook, YouTube and Instagram page, every like, sharing or support is welcome and helps us to dedicate ourselves more and more to our passion: telling the Middle East.

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