The Battle of Algiers Review – C’est Magnifique

(For SI blog readers Trishna147 and GaneshKumar)

* Now we know where the Indian police thugs learned the infamous ‘aeroplane treatment’ they mete out to people in their custody.

* Now we know where the Yellow Monkeys (Chinese) learned the art of brutalizing its people.

* Now we know where the CIA goons learned water-boarding techniques.

* Now we know where countless barbarians everywhere learned the practice of inflicting electric shocks on their captives to extract information.

For all ye schmucks drooling on your French memories, The Battle of Algiers should come as an eyeopener.

A brilliant black and white movie (1966) on the Algerian resistance against the French colonialists during the 1950s, The Battle of Algiers is one of the finest movies we’ve seen in our life.

And we’ve seen a lot of movies, kiddo.

Narrated mostly in flashback, the movie starts with an obviously tortured Algerian prisoner surrounded by French soldiers.

The Algerian captive has been tortured so badly he can barely stand.

Fearful of more pain, does the poor Algerian have any choice but to obey the French soldiers and betray the hideout of Ali La Pointe, the last resistance leader left standing.

Muscular Story
The single star of The Battle of Algiers is the outstanding screenplay based on a true story of the resistance by Saadi Yacef.

Such is the vigor of the story that even the two characters with anything resembling stand-apart roles (Ali La Pointe and Col.Mathieu) don’t stand out. Really.

Although sympathetic to the cause of the resistance, The Battle of Algiers strives to take an even tone in addressing the brutality on both sides.

If violence is the ruthless weapon of the French occupiers to clamp down on the resistance in Algiers, the Algerian resistance fighters are no less violent with their guerrilla tactics, killing of traitors, bombings of public places designed to inflict maximum civilian casualties, using children to kill the French occupiers and indiscriminate firing (from an ambulance, of all places).

Colonialism is never tolerable for those living under the yoke and the whims and caprices of the rulers.

The slightest sign of resistance and the barbed wires separating the natives from the enclaves of the rulers come into place. As they do in The Battle of Algiers separating the European quarters from the natives residences.

A lot of the movie is filmed in narrow, dark/semi-dark streets or inside the houses giving it a forbidding, claustrophobic tension.

What A.R.Rehman is to Tamil Nadu, Ennio Morricone is to the World!
It’s no secret to readers of this fine blog that we’re great fans of the music maestro Ennio Morricone.

And one of the highlights of The Battle of Algiers is the haunting theme music that plays out against the backdrop of the violence.

Repeatedly, does this ominous music play out. When the young boy kills the policeman getting into the car, when the policeman is attacked on the sidewalk by the stalking youth, when the resistance fighters are running on the street and again and again.

Never has the sounds of violence sounded so euphonic.

If there’s any certainty in an uncertain world, it’s that we’ll soon be buying the Ennio Morricone’s Platinum Collection from Amazon.

Some Fine Lines
Great movies invariably come with some memorable lines.

And The Battle of Algiers is no different.

You know Ali, it’s hard enough to start a revolution, even harder to sustain it and hardest of all to win it.

Should France stay in Algeria? If the answer is still yes, then you must accept all the consequences.

The Muslim quarters still echo with the unintelligible and frightening rhythmic cries.

What a shame Indian movie-makers don’t make any war movies.

But then that’s no surprise really.

You ask why?

You really wanna know?

There are two reasons.

The obvious one is that our stupid Bollywood f*cks can’t make any movies for that matter.

Second, there’s little display of great valor in recent Indian history. As all but the utterly dishonest or those living in ra-ra land know, Indians are pussies for the most part, cowards taking shelter under the rhetoric of non-violence and ahimsa even in the face of oppression.

If the Mahatma has done any sin, it’s giving cover to these craven, lily-livered Indian poltroons through the shibboleths of non-violence.

Le Magnifique
Who having seen The Battle of Algiers once can ever forget the final images of the young women protesting on the street, waving their white cloth, pushed back forcefully by the French soldiers but still doggedly waving their white rags.

In their hands, the white rags become the symbols of resistance, not the pennant of surrender.

If you live in the U.S., you can rent The Battle of Algiers from Netflix via DVD or stream it via Instant Play as we did (yes, the French movie comes with English subtitles).

As for the Indians, Chori tera kaam hai. 😉

2 Responses to "The Battle of Algiers Review – C’est Magnifique"

  1. logu   March 30, 2010 at 12:06 am

    As for the Indians, Chori tera kaam hai

    Spot on!!!!!

    Ennio Morricone’s music is truly enchanting.. His music in films like The Untouchables and cow-boy films of 60’s are a sheer delight Responds:

    About an hour or so back, we purchased the Battle of Algiers track from iTunes. Just 99-cents.

    Listened to snippet of The Untouchables on iTunes a few seconds back. Has echoes of Battle of Algiers or vice versa.

  2. logu   March 30, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Off topic:

    A new chapter in the indo-pak ties Responds:

    Saw this earlier today.

    If true, we think it’s a bad idea …the output is bound to be an unnatural thing. 🙁

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