thirty movies hath november – La battaglia de Algeri (1966)

"The word "torture" doesn't appear in our orders. We've always spoken of interrogation as the only valid method in a police operation directed against unknown enemies. As for the NLF, they request that their members, in the event of capture, should maintain silence for twenty-four hours, and then they may talk. So, the organization has already had the time it needs to render any information useless. What type of interrogation should we choose, the one the courts use for a murder case, that drags on for months?

who said that?
(a) Dick Cheney
(b) Donald Rumsfeld
(c) Charles Graner
(d) George W. Bush
(e) none of the above

there is a reason why The Pentagon screened The battle of Algiers in 2003.  the flyer for the screening read:

"How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas.
Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range.
Women plant bombs in cafes.
Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor.
 Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically.
To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film."


commissioned by the Algerian government, based on the memoirs of one of the rebel leaders, directed by Gillo Pontecorvo, scored by Ennio Morricone, The battle of Algiers is a riveting film.


the movie chronicles the uprising of the Casbah, an episode in the Algerian war of independence.  the uprising uses urban guerrilla tactics against the French authorities

the local police is overwhelmed.  soon, a battalion of French paratroopers arrive in Algiers with a plan and a strategy

Ben H'Midi, a leader of the uprising, is captured and brought in front of the press


I don't often talk about movie 'extras', but I'll make an exception for this movie.  The Criterion release of Battle of Algiers consists of three discs:  the movie is in the first one, the second has a long interview with director Pontecorvo and technical details of the film, the third goes into questions of warfare and national security.  all three discs are must-watch.

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4 thoughts on “thirty movies hath november – La battaglia de Algeri (1966)

  1. I'm a big fan of dvd extras and this one sounds like it has some really great stuff.Hey, congrats on Nablopomo 2009! I will miss your daily posts.

  2. If the Pentagon had hoped this would be a good training film for its officers, they obviously failed. But "The Battle of Algiers" is a great movie. We saw it as our first "textbook" for Third World Cinema, and it's amazing how much of what happened in Algeria parallels what's going on in the Middle East and central Asia. The Criterion edition is terrific, too.

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