Battle of Algiers: Reaction

Essay by iamthewalrusCollege, UndergraduateA, October 2009

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The raw, gritty style of The Battle of Algiers makes the film feel akin to a documentary, with a phantom crew, rather than a movie. Shaky camera techniques make the audience feel as if the action is natural and believable. Warlike drumbeats cue offensive actions from either side --occurring before bombings, the strike, and cordoning off of the casaba. Everything from the grainy film to the cinematography made me become more involved with the characters and events occurring in Algiers. Though many of the actors were not professionals by any standard, it only added to its convincing nature. I was very surprised that the filmmakers chose to present the film in a very unbiased perspective considering Algeria had commissioned the film. Either side could have easily been demonized for its actions, but overall I was left with the impression that no one is necessarily evil, right, or wrong. It was a depiction of an anti-colonial movement, as a dwindling empire attempts to grasp upon the remnants of its former glory.

The colonists were massively under-armed and did what they viewed necessary to reach their objective. In their minds it appeared the ends justified the means, as they targeted French civilians and murdered policemen to arm themselves. “Terrorism” was essential in winning the fight in Algiers. They were standing at the feet of a giant.

The will of the inhabitants of the casaba to achieve sovereignty was massive enough to trickle down to every facet of the population. Men, women, and even children sacrificed their lives in the fight against colonial France. It was women who planted bombs in the European district; though this wasn’t a choice made on part of the leadership for equality within the National Liberation Front (FLN) but rather a tactical decision. When the checkpoints were erected...