The Battle of Algiers Auteur Gillo Pontecorvo's masterpiece about Algeria's 1954 uprising against the French is a Frankenstein's monster of a film: history electrified into pulsating life. Using a… The Battle of Algiers Auteur Gillo Pontecorvo's masterpiece about Algeria's 1954 uprising against the French is a Frankenstein's monster of a film: history electrified into pulsating life. Using a…
Movie on DVD Review

The Battle of Algiers (2004)

EW's GRADE
A

Details Release Date: Oct 12, 2004; DVD Release Date: Oct 12, 2004; Movie Rated: Unrated; Genres: Drama, Foreign Language; With: Brahim Haggiag and Jean Martin; Distributor: Rialto Pictures

Auteur Gillo Pontecorvo's masterpiece about Algeria's 1954 uprising against the French is a Frankenstein's monster of a film: history electrified into pulsating life. Using a black-and-white newsreel style, he captures a city at the breaking point. Along the winding lanes of the casbah, in the trendy French clubs, no one is safe from terrorism. More astonishing is the use of nonprofessionals: They're all superb, including Saadi Yacef, the cool leader of the FLN rebels, who plays himself, and Haggiag as a brooding hothead. Pontecorvo captures the moralistic fervor of the guerrillas, the broiling anger of the mobs, the way the violence escalates from random vigilantism to organized assassinations. In one hold-your-breath sequence, three Arab women doff their robes and veils to pass as Europeans through checkpoints and plant bombs.

EXTRAS Excellent, but sample sparingly; en masse, the seven documentaries — talks with filmmakers, rebels, terrorism experts, French military — can overwhelm, turning the film into a college seminar alternately on movies and terrorism.

Originally posted Oct 15, 2004 Published in issue #788 Oct 15, 2004 Order article reprints
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