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Battle of Algiers [VHS]

201 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Brahim Hadjadj, Jean Martin, Yacef Saadi, Samia Kerbash, Ugo Paletti
  • Directors: Gillo Pontecorvo
  • Writers: Gillo Pontecorvo, Franco Solinas
  • Producers: Yacef Saadi, Antonio Musu, Fred Baker
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: Arabic, English, French, Italian
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Wea Corp
  • VHS Release Date: April 21, 1993
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (201 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302737249
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,294 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Director Gillo Pontecorvo's 1966 movie The Battle of Algiers concerns the violent struggle in the late 1950s for Algerian independence from France, where the film was banned on its release for fear of creating civil disturbances. Certainly, the heady, insurrectionary mood of the film, enhanced by a relentlessly pulsating Ennio Morricone soundtrack, makes for an emotionally high temperature throughout. Decades later, the advent of the "war against terror" has only intensified the film's relevance.

Shot in a gripping, quasi-documentary style, The Battle of Algiers uses a cast of untrained actors coupled with a stern voiceover. Initially, the film focuses on the conversion of young hoodlum Ali La Pointe (Brahim Haggiag) to F.L.N. (the Algerian Liberation Front). However, as a sequence of outrages and violent counter-terrorist measures ensue, it becomes clear that, as in Eisenstein's October, it is the Revolution itself that is the true star of the film.

Pontecorvo balances cinematic tension with grimly acute political insight. He also manages an evenhandedness in depicting the adversaries. He doesn't flinch from demonstrating the civilian consequences of the F.L.N.'s bombings, while Colonel Mathieu, the French office brought in to quell the nationalists, is played by Jean Martin as a determined, shrewd, and, in his own way, honorable man. However, the closing scenes of the movie--a welter of smoke, teeming street demonstrations, and the pealing white noise of ululations--leaves the viewer both intellectually and emotionally convinced of the rightfulness of the liberation struggle. This is surely among a handful of the finest movies ever made. --David Stubbs

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

151 of 157 people found the following review helpful By Folantin HALL OF FAME on June 13, 2004
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
"The Battle of Algiers" is the story of a revolution. The film--based on real events--begins in 1954 with Ali-La-Pointe--an illiterate, unemployed ex-boxer. He winds up in prison, and it's there that he begins to identify with the F.N.L.--the National Liberation Front. The F.N.L.'s goal is an independent Algeria--free from French occupation--ruled "with a framework of Islamic principles." Once out of prison, Ali joins the F.N.L and begins 'cleansing' the Casbah (the Muslim section of Algiers) of undesirable Algerians who dabble in prostitution, narcotics and alcohol. The film shifts focus from Ali to the uprising against French Occupation. The situation subtly escalates--French police who sit peacefully drinking coffee in street cafes are murdered, and anti-Arab feelings mount. With a momentum of its own, the situation is blown beyond all control--terrorism is rampant--cafes, air terminals, and racetracks are all targets. Naturally, the French respond, but terrorism still increases, and French officials bump up against such bureaucratic necessities as search warrants and paperwork. Soon the French are behind sandbags and barbed wire, and the Muslim population of the Casbah are subject to checkpoints manned by French soldiers. At this point, seasoned warrior French Lieutenant Colonel Mathieu arrives. While the French residents of Algiers welcome his arrival, Mathieu's march though the streets ultimately seems sinister. He's a career soldier, highly principled in his own way--and he's there to win.
Mathieu doesn't mess about. He takes control of the situation and tells his officers "to succumb to humane considerations only leads to hopeless chaos." Strategy dramatically changes as Mathieu methodically rounds up and tortures Algerians.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By DVD Verdict on August 17, 2011
Format: Blu-ray
Judge Gordon Sullivan, DVD Verdict-- There are so many obvious places to go when discussing The Battle of Algiers. It's almost certainly an accident (though one never knows) that the film was originally released by Criterion on DVD just as the whole Abu Ghraib torture scandal was heating up. It's easy to talk about the debate between terrorist and "freedom fighter," and how it's easy to look at the French as evil and the NLF as good because the Algerian's won their independence. The film also brings up the issues of acceptable tactics; is it okay to target civilians or use children to conduct urban warfare?

Certainly The Battle of Algiers raises these questions, and more--more than most films in the history of cinema. However, what is truly striking about The Battle of Algiers is not the historical moment it attempts to recreate, nor the ethical questions it raises. The most striking thing about The Battle of Algiers is its cinematic achievements. Viewers who know nothing, and care even less, about Algerian political history or revolutions in general can marvel at the tense plotting and amazing visual of the film. Long before faux documentary became the rage, The Battle of Algiers takes a stark, black-and-white look at the world of Algerian resistance. In the extras we learn that the film was at one time proceeded by the warning that none of the footage was from documentaries or newsreels. Honestly, they could have fooled me. There's an immediacy to the presentation of this film that goes far beyond its "ripped from the headlines" story.

In fact, the immediacy of the visuals and the story go a long way towards deflating the expectations generated by decades of constant praise.
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88 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Swederunner on October 25, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Battle of Algiers displays the occupied Algeria attempt to fight for freedom as they have been under French rule since the 1830's. A little background history would enlighten the audience as the invasion of North Africa, Land of the Berbers, by the French in the 1830's was instigated by 300 years of "pirating" ships in the Mediterranean and raids of southern Europe, which enslaved many Europeans that were brought to Africa. However, the French occupation brought great injustices to the Algerian people as they are treated as second class citizens. In addition, the French controlled the markets, resources, and jobs, which only further the lives of the French citizens.

The injustices forced upon the Algerians to live in poverty, unemployment, societal harassment, and unequal rights. Consequently, the Algerians begin to rise against the injustice, but the unequal military force drives the Algerian freedom fighters to exercise terrorism and other hideous acts of violence. This violence is fed by further aggression from the French police as it escalates the violence from both sides.

The story begins with a man being humanely treated after a rough bout of torture as persecuting soldiers blame the man for the excessive torture, as all he had to do was to tell them what they wanted to know. The tortured man has just revealed the whereabouts of a known terrorist and he is in emotional agony as he is aware of what he has just done. They dress the agonized man in a French camouflage uniform, and depart to capture the freedom fighter.

The freedom fighter, Ali La Pointe (Brahim Haggiag), hides in a secret room behind a wall with three others.
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Old movies
They cost so much because of the work people have done to restore the video quality.
Dec 23, 2008 by J. Heimbigner |  See all 4 posts
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