Showing 1 - 1 of 1 Reviews for La Battaglia di Algeri (The Battle of Algiers)
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Posted on 11/22/12 12:25 PM
Ultimately, the notions of War is considered by many a superfluous act. A act that stems from various ideological beliefs and political agendas; whether it be the fight for ones independence or the accumulation of power, each agenda seems to culminate to one entity: senseless killing. Besides its viewing of such notions embedded within war, "The Battle of Algiers" is quite possibly the epitome of the notion 'Pure Cinema.' It's a film that stands as a monumental technical achievement that only the power of cinema can display: it blends the two visual forums of documentary presentation and cinematic narrative - a presentation that only films can represent. While the themes of liberty against colonialism seem tiresome, Gillo Pontecorvo presents them through an authentic process. Usually with such a film, there is a clear moral distinction: the good people are the ones fighting for liberty, and the bad people are the ones attempting to oppose such efforts. However, Pontecorvo blurs such moral lines to suggest that any man who fights for their certain ideals are subjected to a continuation of senseless killing.
The narrative revolves around the reconstruction of the historical moment of Algerian natives fight for independence against the colonial French society. The main focus is situated between the years of 1954 and 1957; a fight against two groups: The FLN (National Liberation Front) and the French army paratroopers.
As stated, the films ability in its presentation of the notions of 'Pure Cinema' is definitely the films most interesting aspect. For the unfamiliar to the term 'Pure Cinema,' let be attempt to enlighten you: The concepts of 'Pure Cinema' refer to the power that films contain to accumulate various technical elements. For example, only the art of film-making can project a moving visual image with the accompany of music and a projection of involving characters. "Algiers" displays such a combination of elements, however, he adds an achievement that is quite possible unparalleled with: he combines the notions of cinematic narrative with the accompany of real documentary footage; an emergence that only films can represent. With such an approach, Pontecorvo efforts are immensely elevated as the film provides such an authentic and realistic experience that is undeniably powerful where nothing seems artificial.
Another authentic aspect is that it's quite difficult to find a moral distinction, especially within a film a that revolves around liberty against oppression. Rather than situate a typical anti-war film of good vs evil - well to be more precise liberty vs oppression - instead, the films plays on our morals; it's quite difficult to choose which group to sympathize for, as both engage in nefarious acts (similar to Mary Shelley's literate classic "Frankenstein"). Consider Brahim Haggiag (Hadjadi) initiation into the FLN: he is judged on the fact whether he would shoot a French police officer. It's a terrifying truth that plagues Algiers and ultimately question their actions.
Furthermore, there are various juxtapositions riddled throughout the film. Through one sequence, the political climate is obviously reaching boiling point as the French army continue to harass Algiers. To such problems, the Algiers execute a series of bombings on innocent pedestrians. In another sequence, Pontecorvo presents a montage of truly melancholic torture images, however, directly after this passage he presents a sequence where the Algiers are mindlessly killing a number of civilians; as stated, it's quite difficult to sympathize for a certain group, both engage in the same actions: senseless killing. Even consider the villain Col.Mathieu (Martin). Sure, he's a man that is most definitely the catalyst for the FLN demise, however, his actions are not necessarily as bad as you would you initially conceived; he's a man that respects his enemies actions - even respects their ideals - and gives the final survivors the chance to live through a diplomatic solutions.
Personally, the film evokes "The Dark knight" paradox "When an unstoppable force meets an immovable Object," a line that brilliantly sums up the opposing and mutual standing within any battle of two separate ideals. Additionally, like Nolan's efforts, "The Battle of Algiers" displays the destruction of civilians caught within the crossfire, and within the ending, they are the true victors. Through the final shot we are treated to a woman standing for her liberation as Pontecorvo takes us to the years were native Algiers finally gained their independence. The ending is suggesting that for ideological beliefs to succeed, they must not only depend on certain individual instigators, but rather the accumulation of a nation; and - most importantly - it will not happen overnight. The price for freedom is always long-term.
Subjectively, "The Battle of Algiers" is not as powerful as I initially expected and the notions of liberty seem ultimately tiresome, however, the film brilliantly succeeds due to its authentic presentation of 'Pure Cinema' and its variable moral distinction; but all in all, Pontecorvo efforts display that all conflicting ideologies will culminate into one outcome: senseless killing.