Saturday, December 04, 2004

The Battle Of Algiers

On Wednesay I watched a restored print of The Battle of Algiers, the first of a mini-season of films on the theme of War and Peace that I'm organising. Since the release of Gillo Pontecorvo's masterpiece in 1965 a great deal has been said about its contribution to cinematic language - the hand-held camerawork, the choreography of the crowd scenes, Ennio Morricone's dramatic and driven score, the amazing use of space. There is so much here and films such as Bloody Sunday owe a great debt of honour. But I think the greatness of the film also lies in Pontecorvo's claim to have captured the "smell of truth". This is not just of the specificites of the Algerian struggle for independence against a brutalised French occupation. It is also a testimony to both the outrages and the moral ambiguities that permeate all conflicts. And the film neither glorifies the former nor succumbs to the latter. In its intensity and commitment the potency of The Battle of Algiers remains with us today. Go and see it.

Showing during the remainder of the War and Peace season are: Danis Tanovic's No Man's Land; Samira Makhmalbaf's At Five In The Afternoon; and, Bahman Ghobadi's Marooned In Iraq.


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