BELLWORK 1. Why did the film, The Battle of Algiers, cause controversy in France? (pg. 285) 2. Why would a filmmaker choose to recreate a historical event? Do you think it is to increase public knowledge of the event, or is it for pure entertainment? Explain! What about The Battle of Algiers? 3. Does a filmmaker have a responsibility to stay truthful to a story? What if the event remains politically sensitive? 4. THINKER: The Battle of Algiers has seen a revival because of the similarities with America’s involvement in Iraq post2003. What similarities do you notice between the Algerian War and the war in Iraq? Film Synopsis • One of the most influential political films in history, The Battle of Algiers, by Gillo Pontecorvo, vividly re-creates a key year in the tumultuous Algerian struggle for independence from the occupying French in the 1950s. As violence escalates on both sides, children shoot soldiers at point-blank range, women plant bombs in cafés, and French soldiers resort to torture to break the will of the insurgents. Shot on the streets of Algiers in documentary style, the film is a case study in modern warfare, with its terrorist attacks and the brutal techniques used to combat them. Pontecorvo’s tour de force has astonishing relevance today. Film Info • • • Ali La Pointe – one of the FLN's most trusted and loyal lieutenants in Algiers; becomes FLN commander Saadi Yacef - one of the leaders of the FLN, also their military chief in Algiers; currently a Senator in Algeria (The character El-hadi Jafar is based on his life & involvement) • • • Film concentrates on 1954-1957 and is about the organization of a guerrilla movement and the methods used by the colonial power to annihilate it. Focuses on when the guerrilla fighters regrouped and expanded into the casbah, only to face a systematic attempt by French paratroopers to wipe them out. The story begins and ends from the perspective of Ali la Pointe, a petty criminal who is politically radicalized while in prison and then recruited by FLN commander Elhadi Jafar (Saadi Yacef, dramatizing a character based on himself) Lieutenant-Colonel Mathieu, the paratroop commander, is the principal French character After the Algerian War, Yacef helped produce Gillo Pontecorvo's film The Battle of Algiers (1966). Yacef played a character modeled on his own experiences in the battle. The film is inspired by Souvenirs de la Bataille d'Alger, by Saadi Yacef, the campaign account of an FLN military commander The character of Colonel Philippe Mathieu, is widely believed to be a composite of Marcel Bigeard, Jacques Massu and other prominent officers Marcel Bigeard – Lieutenant General of French troops in Algerian War (launched counter-terror campaign) Aerial view from 1935, showing the juncture of the casbah (on the right) and the French quarters (on the left). Barricades Week The Casbah, where the film was shot. Filmed in black and white and experimented with various techniques to give the film the look of newsreel and documentary film Awards • It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival • Nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Foreign Language Film. • In 2010, the movie was ranked sixth in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema” and 120th in the top 500 films of all time.