The Battle of Algiers: an iconic film whose message of hope still resonates today

Posted on: 21 October 2021 by Department of Languages, Cultures and Film in 2021 posts

Yacef Saadi, military leader of the FLN National Liberation Front networks of the autonomous zone of Algiers, poses after being captured at the end of the “Battle of Algiers”

Dr Maria Flood, lecturer in World Cinema, discusses Gillo Pontecorvo's 1965 production The Battle of Algiers in an article for The Conversation.

'Saadi Yacef, the Algerian revolutionary leader who fought for his country’s liberation from French colonial rule, died on 10 September 2021. Yacef is perhaps one of the better known of Algeria’s resistance fighters because of the role he played in the creation of the film The Battle of Algiers, directed by the renowned Italian film maker Gillo Pontecorvo.

The Battle of Algiers was filmed in 1965 as a co-production between an Italian creative team and the new Algerian FLN (Front de Libération Nationale) government, whose representative Yacef produced the film and stars as the character of Jaffar.

One of the most extraordinary films ever made, The Battle of Algiers is an emotionally devastating account of the anticolonial struggle of the Algerian people and a brutally candid exposé of the French colonial mindset. Many French people were unhappy with the representation of their army and country in the film. It was not officially censored in France, but the general public and all cinemas boycotted it. It was seen as anti-French propaganda.

In later years, the film was screened to groups classed as revolutionaries and terrorists, apparently becoming a “documentary guidebook” in the Palestinian struggle, and for organisations such as the Irish Republican Army and the Black Panthers, who examined its detailed representation of guerrilla tactics.'

Read the full article here.

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Study in the Department of Languages,Cultures and Film the University of Liverpool.