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The Battle of Algiers

Gillo Pontecorvo’s 1966 film The Battle of Algiers has an iconic status in the film canon. Nominated for two Oscar Awards, winner at the Venice and Acapulco Film Festivals, his gritty depiction of the Algerian struggle against colonialism led Edward Said to describe it ‘the great 1960s film.’ Why? Read more...

The articles below explore the many facets of this remarkable film. Starting with its relationship to the actual events, they trace its genesis, its production and its subsequent impact.

Martin Evans, Professor of Modern History at University of Sussex


The Battle of Algiers: a formative influence on Moroccan cinema

Algeria partnershipLaying bare the social and economic structures of oppression to reconstruct a national psyche from the ruins – how an idea caught on.


Pontecorvo's Colonel Mathieu: the paratrooper who embodied France

Algeria partnershipWhat we see is a three dimensional character who is eloquent and thoughtful in his actions.

The practice of harm in The Battle of Algiers

Algeria partnershipIt was the French colonisers, after all, who were bound to international conventions that govern the practice of harm in a way that a small groups of individuals like the Algerians, were not.

First encounters with the Battle of Algiers

Algeria partnershipOn February 6, 2013, the University of Sussex History Department held a special screening of the Battle of Algiers, followed by discussion with Yasmin El Derby from the Middle East and North Africa Film Festival in London. Here are three reactions.   

The Battle of Algiers transposed into a Palestinian key

Algeria partnershipCinematic representations of the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation frequently invoke The Battle of Algiers as a point of reference. This reflects a long history of Palestinian identification with the Algerian independence movement and more specifically with Pontecorvo’s film.

In short: Belkacem Belmekki on The Battle of Algiers

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

Transcending boundaries: Yasmin El Derby on The Battle of Algiers

Algeria partnershipThe festival director of the London Middle East and North Africa Film Festival talks about the place of Pontecorvo’s film within the history of the region’s cinema and about its future.


In short: Ken Loach on The Battle of Algiers

Algeria partnership

On 17 December 2012, Ken Loach summed up the personal significance of The Battle of Algiers for him, in our project situating Algeria’s history, society and politics within the wider context of the Arab world.

Genesis of a film: the Battle of Algiers

Algeria partnershipA 2006 documentary by Yves Boisset uses uncredited extracts from the film, mixed in with actual news reels, without stating that the film was made nine years after the events which it relates to. Fiction has become a historical document. 

Good guys and bad guys: The Battle of Algiers and The Dark Knight Rises

Algeria partnershipThe ‘chaos and fear’ inspired by The Battle of Algiers is certainly there, enhanced by another parallel between the two films – the location from which the uprising bursts forth. 

The Battle of Algiers: historical truth and filmic representation

Algeria partnershipThe bitter divisions within the FLN are ignored. Instead, Gillo Pontecorvo, in his 1966 film, The Battle of Algiers, presents the war uniquely in terms of the FLN against the French paratroopers. We begin a new series exploring the many facets of this remarkable film.

Gender, myth, nationalism: Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers

Algeria partnershipIn its framing techniques, Pontecorvo’s film arguably defines the ‘people’ in fundamentally masculine terms; as a Revolution comprised of male ‘heroes’ and martyrs.

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