Friday, 18 February 2011

La battaglia di Algeri - The Battle of Algiers

1966 by Gillo Pontecarvo

As the name suggests its about Algeria's struggle for Independence from the French. FLN is an organisation, by a small minority of Algerians, fighting to gain independence through any means. The organisation has a strange hierarchy, wherein  any member might not be acquainted with more than 3 other members. They have the support of the people and kills French policeman in simple, but excellent, operations. When a police commissioner, who believes normal laws are not enough to deal with such fighters, plants a bomb in the Casbah, the locality dominated by Algerians, killing many locals, FLN also starts attacks with bombs killing French. It finally turns into a very violent battle and the French desperate to hold their foot, calls for their Army, who are just after an embaressing defeat in the Indo china war. Army soon manages to capture most of the FLN members, especially all their leaders and the battle of Algiers seems to be won by the French. But after a quiet of couple of years, without any organisational movements there is a strong popular movement and this time French has to withdraw themselves and Algeria wins its freedom.

This movie is beautifully captured in black and white has dialogues in French and Arab and is wonderfully directed by an Italian and seems to be produced by both Italian and Algerian firms. This could be an Italian or  Algerian movie.

This movie, which is based on a book, is wonderful as it could have ended as a documentary, but is so brilliantly directed that it ends up as a thrilling movie, with so many great moments of emotion, thrill, patriotism and everything except romance.  The scenes like ,a to be FLN leader witnessing the killing of a freedom fighter in the jail, the FLN operation to bomb three different locations in French Algiers by their 3 women cadets keeping the bomb in their hand bags, the deeds of the little boy who work as FLN messenger, the press meet of a captured FLN top leader, the press meet of French army colonel, the plight of a tortured Algerian to rat out his leader and the final revolt of the people, all are so brilliantly shot.

The background music is so different, but adds brilliantly to the mood of the movie.

It is impossible to think about all what is happening around us, while watching this movie. The current revolts in the middle east, the occupations of Afghanistan, Iraq, the problems in our own Kashmir and Eastern states, all kept flashing in while and after watching this movie.

Just like America managed to ban a Turkish movie on Iraq occupation (I was told about this movie by a friend who said it was like a documentary) immediately after Iraq was occupied, this movie was banned by France for more than 3 years since its release.

This is a must watch movie for every human being, but not for the fascist and colonialist. 

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