(La Battaglia di Algeri)
This seminal work about the Algerian struggle for independence from France won the “Best Film” award at the 1966 Venice Film Festival, and later garnered two Oscar nominations for Gillo Pontecorvio, as director and co-writer..
The bulk of the explicitly political feature is shot in flashback, presented as the memories of Ali (Brahim Haggiag), a leading member of the Algerian Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN), when finally captured by the French in 1957.
We learn that three years earlier, Ali was a petty thief who joined the secretive organization in order to help rid the Casbah of vice associated with the colonial government. The film traces the rebels’ struggle and the increasingly extreme measures taken by the French government to quell what soon becomes a nationwide revolt.
After the flashback, Ali and the last of the FLN leaders are killed, and the film takes on a more general focus, leading to the declaration of Algerian independence in 1962.
Director Gillo Pontecorvo’s careful re-creation of a complicated guerrilla struggle presents an unabashedly partisan view of some complex social and political issues, which got the film banned in France for many years.
“La Battaglia di Algeri” was subsidized by the Algerian government. With the exception of Jean Martin and Tommaso Neri as French officers — the cast was entirely Algerian as well.
There are several versions of this picture, differing in running time.
Oscar Nominations: 2
Director: Gillo Pontecorvo
Story and Screenplay (Original): Franco Solinas and Gillo Pontecorvo
The directing Oscar went to Carol Reed, at his third nomination, for the musical movie “Oliver!” and the Writing Oscar to Mel Brooks for “The Producers.”
Directed By: Gillo Pontecorvo
Written By: Gillo Pontecorvo, Franco Solinas.
Released on September 20, 1967, during the height of the Vietnam War.
DVD: September 21, 2004