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In short: Dr Meziane Saidi, historian of Algerian War, on Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers

The film shows a popular revolution above all else.

The film The Battle of Algiers represents a very significant part of the history of the Algerian Revolution.  The film of Pontecorvo in itself represents something of documentary value that retraces the reality of the anti-colonial struggle on the part of Algerians and can be used as a pedagogical tool in the teaching of the history of the Algerian War.  

The film meticulously demonstrates the efficiency of the FLN organisation put in place in August 1956....The film shows the role of the inhabitants of Algiers and above all the Casbah, and the coherence that existed between the leaders of the FLN and the whole of the Algerian population (it is a popular revolution above all else).  It perfectly demonstrates the reality of the historical facts and highlights the nature of the clash between the two camps.  Yacef Saadi, playing himself in the film under the name Jaffar, was up to the job and the acting was so good that one feels the strength of the events as they unfold.  Consequently the film has had a big impact upon the Algerian public who feel an exemplary pride in the martyrs such as Hassiba Ben Bouali, Ali la Pointe and Taleb Abderrahmane: symbols of the revolution in Algiers.  The film, in the most beautiful way, shows the French repression and the use of torture, with bloody scenes which led to the banning of the film in France.  This explains the divergence of French views with those of Algerians and more precisely the European settlers who considered the FLN as a terrorist organisation.            

In conclusion, I will say that the film is very well appreciated by the Algerians who see the bravery of their fathers, mothers and all the classes of the population who made huge sacrifices for the realisation of independence. 

About the author

Meziane Saidi is a lecturer in history at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Bouzareah, Algiers.


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