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The Battle Of Algiers is a 1966 film by Gillo Pontecorvo, and is a dramatization of the Algerian War of Independence. The story begins with Ali La Pointe, a card sharp in the cramped slums of Algiers, the capital city of French-controlled Algeria. Imprisoned, he joins the rebel group FLN and takes up arms against the colonial French government. After a few skirmishes with French police, reprisal killings spur ever-worse reprisal killings as the native and colonist populations are radicalized against each other. A UN vote for independence comes and goes as a general strike is called. Afterward, a French military expert, Colonel Philippe Mathieu, is brought in to pacify the region, gain intelligence, and destroy the FLN leadership.
A critical favorite, the film has attracted no small amount of controversy over the years. France banned the movie until 1971. It has been used as a how-to for many left-wing groups worldwide (notably, the Black Panthers used it as a training-film in the 60s), and, conversely, was screened by the Pentagon in 2003 as a primer on counterterrorism.
This work contains examples of:
- Action Girl: Hassiba Ben Bouali.
- Anti-Hero: Ali.
- Big No: There's a loud one in the beginning.
- Black and Gray Morality: Terrorists blowing up innocent civilians (including children), versus colonial forces who torture people and don't care about "collateral damage".
- Not to mention the FLN's strict insistence on sharia law, enforced by the death penalty.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Completely averted here.
- Child Soldier: Petit Omar, more or less.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Done by the French soldiers.
- Colonel Badass: Colonel Mathieu.
- Cycle of Revenge
- Doomed Moral Victor: Ali.
- During the War
- The Empire: France.
- False-Flag Operation
- Foregone Conclusion
- Freakier Than Fiction: In actuality, the war was even more brutal than depicted here.
- How We Got Here
- I Did What I Had to Do:
Mathieu: Should France remain in Algeria? If your answer is "yes", then you must accept all the consequences.
- Infant Immortality: Cruelly averted. When the first bomb is placed in the busy cafe, we see the people inside, including several small children. They all die in the massive blast.
- Kick the Dog: Oh man, where to start...
- Line-of-Sight Name
- Necessarily Evil: Again, Mathieu, though milage may vary over the "Evil" part.
- Arguably, the revolutionaries are this as well.
- Punch Clock Villain: Colonel Mathieu. He has to do horrible things but he isn't particularly deplorable. He even mentions that Algerians are good people and hopes things will remain peaceful after the FLN presence in the city is wiped out.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized
- Rotating Arcs: There is no main character, as such.
- Shoot the Dog
- Urban Segregation: The famous shot panning from the wealthy European Quarter of Algiers, to the dirt poor Casbah.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Ali and Colonel Mathieu, in their own ways.