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In short: Belkacem Belmekki on The Battle of Algiers

Algeria partnership

A 36-year old Algerian lecturer from the post-independence generation explains what Gillo Pontecorvo’s film means to him. 


Belkacem Belmekki
11 February 2013

I remember having watched Gillo Pontecorvo’s film La Bataille d’Alger a couple of times when I was young. I have actually watched many films about Algeria’s war of independence, often run on Algerian state TV on national days; however, la Bataille d’Alger is a special one.  It looks more like a documentary than a film. For me, this film is a work of art full of historical symbols. It reveals, in an objective manner, the vehemence with which the Algerian people was determined in its quest for freedom. It depicts the role played by every individual in the Algerian society, men, women, boys and girls, no matter under what circumstances, in the struggle for a just cause. In my opinion, one of the best scenes in this film is the pride and dignity with which a smiling Larbi Ben M’hidi faced death.  In the meantime, La Bataille d’Alger also reflects the extent of the harshness of French colonial rule in Algeria, which was almost unequalled anywhere in contemporary history. This film indeed holds a special place in the minds and hearts of all Algerians.  It really makes me proud of my country’s past.

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This article is part of the Algeria and the Arab Revolutions: Pasts, Presents and Futures partnership, funded by the University of Portsmouth and the University of Sussex. Read more about openDemocracy's editorial partnerships programme.

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