The 1996 Gillo Pontecorvo-directed Battle of Algiers movie depicts the struggle between Algerians and French colonialists by recreating occurrences that happened in Algeria’s capital city between 1954 and 1962. Ali La Pointe, a politically-radicalized former prisoner, narrates the film’s story. After serving his prison term, Pointe was engaged by the National Liberation Front (FLN) via El-hadi Jafar - a military commander.
Due to increased violence, French army paratroopers are introduced to pursue FLN elements. The paratroop leader - Colonel Mathieu, is the movie’s major French character.
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Petit Omar, Larbi Ben M’hidi, Hassiba, Djamila, and Zohra are other French characters. The FLN-commanded Casbah executes local Algerian offenders plus other traitors and applies violence to trouble civilian French citizens. In turn, the French take up public lynching and arbitrary, racist aggression against local Algerians. Through the movie, Pontecorvo demonstrates that war really disadvantages civilians based on the strategies the two contending sides employ to subdue each other. For example, both the French and the FNL direct their war-oriented frustrations at the hapless locals.
On its part, the FLN use the Casbah militant organization to summarily execute alleged traitors, Algerian offenders and to torment French civilians. In return, the French mete out violence on native Algerians by indiscriminately murdering, torturing, and intimidating locals (Chansel 199). Through such events, Pontecorvo shows that war is a very costly phenomenon that harms both non-combatants and combatants. In addition, the Battle of Algiers critiques the domineering stance that western developed countries usually adopt when dealing with their undeveloped counterparts.
French paratroopers come in when locals express hostility towards the European settlers. France’s decision to send in paratroopers to help quell the anti-European sentiments in Algeria demonstrates this western self-ascribed supremacy. Other than seek dialogue, the French seek to exterminate the Algerian citizens in their own land. This situation demonstrates utter contempt by the Whites towards the locals (Chansel 199). Works Cited Chansel, Dominique. Europe On-screen: Cinema and the Teaching of History, Volume 2. Strasbourg, France: Council of Europe, 2001.
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