50 Years Later, ‘The Battle of Algiers’ is Still Startling Relevant

GameStop, Inc.

The Battle of Algiers

For over 130 years, the French occupied Algeria. Their enduring occupation led to an underground resistance front that carried out forms of terrorism and guerrilla warfare against the French Algerian government, which after years of bloodshed concluded /with Algerian independence. Between 1954 and 1957, the National Liberation Front (FLN) carried out a series of attacks which led to a crackdown by the French forces and were the subject for the striking 1966 film from director Gillo Pontecorvo, The Battle of Algiers, an enduring piece of cinema that is now subject to a 4K restoration from Rialto Pictures. 50 years after it first landed on screens, The Battle of Algiers is still startling relevant in its examination of an ongoing war between an occupying power and a loosely assembled force without uniforms.

The Battle of Algiers was banned in France for five years due its perceived sympathies to the Algerian rebels, though the film is very evenhanded in portraying both sides of the conflict. The film opens with Ali La Pointe (Brahim Hadjadj) cornered by the encroaching French forces in 1957 before flashing back to Ali’s origins in joining the FLN back in 1954. At first, the FLN is orchestrating its attacks to target the French police and military that patrol the streets of Algiers, a form of guerrilla warfare that has yielded successful revolutions in Ireland and, for that matter, the United States. As the attacks persist, the French institute a crackdown on the Muslim neighborhood of Algiers known as the Casbah, a program of religious and ethnic profiling.

The crackdowns yield few results, and the FLN takes up new tactics to evade these new crackdowns. One of the most haunting scenes in The Battle of Algiers illustrate the futility of such profiling. A trio of young women abandon their hajibs, dye their hair, and dress themselves in fashionable clothes. Smiling as they easily pass through a checkpoint, the trio then assembles bombs in their handbags and place them in three separate locations all populated by French nationals. This is the moment when the guerrilla warfare crossed over into outright terrorism, and the realism of the explosions captured on film is genuinely disturbing. But it also serves as a reminder that when away from the battlefield of conventional warfare, an enemy without a uniform can do whatever it takes to elude detection and obtain their nefarious goals.

As the violence continues, the French call in Colonel Mathieu (Jean Martin), an officer with an impeccable record of fighting the Nazis. He’s a shrewd tactician and a soldier through and through. Not only does Mathieu battle his foes on the streets, but he’s also keen on playing the press to his advantage. Despite his duty as a solider, he doesn’t seem to downright dismiss and dehumanize his opponent. However, his methods of interrogation are questionable at best, including forms of torture in order to figure out the chain of command of the FLN in order to break quest for independence. When it comes to fighting his enemies, Mathieu has no qualms of using brutal techniques that mirror his enemies; but he’s a man who takes great exception to being referred to as a fascist due his history in fighting with the French Resistance in World War II. Mathieu is a fascinating a figure in the context in the film, a solider of the past fighting a form of war that represents the future.

Though Mathieu’s campaign against the FLN does deliver results in the form of capturing or killing ranking members of the organization, in the end Algeria is still able to carry out its mission for independence. Even more, it brings forth the question if the moral sacrifices carried out by the French through torture and other forms of abhorrent forms of interrogation were worth the temporary victory. These are questions that Americans should be asking themselves daily about the ongoing tactics in the never-ending War on Terror, be it the now abandoned techniques of waterboarding, which there are many who lament that this practice has been abandoned (including the current nominee for the GOP), or the aggressive escalation of drone strikes. The relevance of The Battle of Algiers is startling, as 50 years later the film speaks to inform the present – we’re long overdue to listen.

The Battle of Algiers has a visceral verisimilitude that is rarely encountered in movies, especially war movies. Legendary French director François Truffaut famously said that “There’s no such thing as an anti-war film.” His reasoning that the dramatization that occurs when bringing battle to the screen comes across glorious despite whatever the intentions of the filmmakers. In a way, The Battle of Algiers refutes this statement by Truffaut, because the way with which Pontecorvo highlights the questionable tactics on both sides of the conflict. It’s nigh impossible to root for the FLN against the French as they bomb dance clubs and bars occupied by innocent civilians. It’s also impossible to root for the French as they institute a program of racial and religious profiling, and their raids against FLN members conclude with indiscriminate bombings of the homes of the impoverished citizens of the Casbah.

Adding a sense of urgency to The Battle of Algiers is the music by Ennio Morricone, the legendary composer most famous for his spaghetti westerns. Most people will recall the opening music of the film from Quentin Tarantino’s use of it in his own Inglourious Basterds, a form urgent military marching music with piano marching up and down the scale. As with most Morricone scores, the music adds its own memorable layer to the action; it’s as much a part of the tension as the visceral images of violent guerrilla warfare.

It’s rare for a movie to feel as urgent and relevant as The Battle of Algiers does today. It’s a story of a moment in history, but the parallels to the current global climate of terrorism feel as if this movie was culled from today’s headlines. It’s frustrating within The Battle of Algiers to see the mistakes that French made in trying to battle the FLN, and seeing that these failed military tactics are often called for from the most hawkish corners of the American political spectrum. Though it’s a dramatized version of historical events, The Battle of Algiers has a level of realism rarely seen in the cinema. It’s a movie that comes across as living history, there to remind us of the errors of the past so we don’t dare repeat them. This restoration of The Battle of Algiers is haunting because it serves as a reminder that so many are far too eager to recreate the mistakes of the past, and we can’t let that happen all over again.

The 4K restoration of The Battle of Algiers opens October 7th at the Nuart Theater in Los Angeles and the Film Forum in New York City. For more theater listings go to the Rialto Pictures website

The Battle of Algiers
  • Overall Score


A visceral piece of historical dramatization, The Battle of Algiers is still a strikingly relevant tale of revolution against colonial forces, and even more a portrait in the questionable tactics employed on both sides of the conflict with numerous parallels to the modern world.

Anytime Costumes

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Nicole Kang Talks About Batwoman and her new movie The Social Ones

We were first introduced to Nicole Kang as Mary Hamilton on...

Hamilton Review
‘Hamilton’ Review — The Hit Musical Shines on Disney+

The historical musical Hamilton has been a pop culture phenomenon since...

New TMNT Movie
Nickelodeon & Point Grey Pictures Readies All-New TMNT Movie

All New TMNT movie is in the works from Nickelodeon and...

Event News Event Reviews
SDCC Amazon Prime Activation
[Con-Pression] SDCC Amazon Prime Activation

We relive moments of Con past to deal with our Con-Pression,...

Casey Biggs and Jeffery Combs Discuss their Virtual Meet and Greek Along with Star Trek Las Vegas

On the heels of Creation Entertainment announcing the Official Star Trek...

Connor Trinneer & Dominic Keating Discuss The Star Trek Virtual Fan Experience

Connor Trinneer (“Charles “Trip” Tucker III”) and Dominic Keating (“Malcolm Reed”)...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
SnowRunner Launches Today

SnowRunner looks to be the ultimate off-roading virtual experience and launches today...

John Wick Hex
John Wick Hex Releases May 5th on PC and Playstation 4

John Wick Hex releases on May 5th on PC and Playstation...

Marvel United Funded
Marvel United Funded – Only Hours Left to Back Marvel United

Marvel United funded in the first 31 minutes! Now you only...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular Variant Covers Announced

Press Release from DC Entertainment:   “In brightest day, in blackest...

Comic Historian and Writer, Scott Beatty Discusses the Future of the Industry

Scott Beatty is an incredible guy. He’s a writer, professor, father...

AEW Star, Hangman Page Reads Aloud to Children on Instagram on Friday, April 17

Press Release – CHICAGO, IL (April 14, 2020) – With schools...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Celebrate Bob Ross and the Joy of Painting with Loot Crate

Press Release – Los Angeles, CA (April 16, 2020) – For almost...

McCafé Frappé
McCafé Frappé in a Bottle is a Great Way to Start the Day

McCafé Frappé in a Bottle is the best way to start...

Consumable Gift List 2019
FBN Consumable Gift List 2019

Our Consumable Holiday Gift List 2019 – The best gift to...

Automotives Football MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
We get ‘Fit with Mandy’ Rose

Former WBFF Bikini World Champion and current WWE Superstar, Mandy Rose...

WrestleMania 36 Night Two Recap!

After a handful of amazing matches at WrestleMania 36 Night One,...

WrestleMania 36 Night One Recap!

People have questioned the motives of Vince McMahon and his desire...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Wizarding Rumble, mini-arc: New Horizons chapter 3

Ron is easily seduced by the trappings of Animal Crossing..

Comics on the can: Babylon Working

COMICS ON THE CAN Babylon Working issue #1 Created by Marcel...

Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Wizard Rumble: New Horizons chapter 2

No violence in Animal Crossing! The boys are having problems adjusting....

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Episode 38: Hamid Rahmanian

Join Whitney Grace as she speaks with artist Hamid Rahmanian, who...

No Preview
Toon-In Talk Episode 37: Niki Smith

Whitney Grace interviews graphic novel writer and artist Niki Smith about...

Toon-In Talk Episode 36: Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen takes some time from his busy voice acting schedule...

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Comedy Duo Ben Giroux and Jensen Reed Take Us, ‘Back To The 80s’

Two of the funniest men in show business, Ben Giroux (Hart...

James Maslow ‘Rush’es the Stage to Perform at Super Girl Surf Pro on Sunday

James Maslow is an American singer, actor and songwriter best known as the star of...

Jason Lazarus Talks about Composing the Music for ‘Teen Titans Go! vs Teen Titans’

Jason Lazarus is a Los Angeles based composer for film, television, and...