The Battle of Algiers

I love old movies. Especially this one, The Battle of Algiers. The movie mixes fiction and non-fiction (one of the main characters was also a revolutionary in the real life battle of Algiers) to retell the war between French colonists and Algerian revolutionaries in 1957. This movie is so badass that its actually been used as a training tape on revolutionary tactics.

This is a movie to make you think. The movie doesn’t come out supporting either side. Both sides have honor. Both sides kill civilians in the name of their cause. Still, I come away from the movie firmly on the side of the Algerian revolutionaries. Two quotes sum up the two sides pretty well:

The first is from Ben M’Hidi, one of the Algerian revolutionaries. After he is caught, he is given a press conference. A journalist asks him if Ben M’Hidi if he thinks it is cowardly that Algerian women plant bombs to kill civilians. Ben M’Hidi answers:

“And doesn’t it seem even more cowardly to drop napalm bombs on defenseless villages, so that there are a thousand times more innocent victims? Of course, if we had your airplanes, it would be a lot easier for us. Give us your bombers, and we will give you our baskets.”

The French justification for killing civilians and torturing captives comes from Colonial Mathieu:

Should we remain in Algeria? If you answer “yes”, then you must accept all the necessary consequences.

It’s that simple. The French are willing to use any tactics to occupy Algiers. Colonial Mathieu may just be doing his job, but his job is to maintain an oppressive colonial system. The Algerians are making do with the resources they have to win independence and self determination.

Sound like any current situations?


One thought on “The Battle of Algiers

  1. thanks for posting on this molly. i was so torn the first time i saw this film. and i still haven’t reached an internal resolution regarding it…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s