Jean Martin (Col. Mathieu), Brahim Haggiag (Ali La Pointe),
Saadi Yacef (Djafar), Samia Kerbash (Fathia), Ugo Paletti (Captain)
This Italian-Algerian production may not be one of the most
iconic war films, but it's certainly amongst the most powerful.
Filmed in cinema vérité/documentary style by director Gillo
Pontecorvo, the focus is on political unrest and upheaval in the city of Algiers, still under French governance as a unit of guerrilla soldiers fight for Algerian independence.
Rather than having a typical three act structure, the film
plays out like newsreel footage for an authentic experience that plunges the viewer right into the civil unrest.
There are scenes which add to the dramatisation, including one
where a group of women who are armed with bombs at various public places, making for a moment of genuine tension which is unrivalled in modern productions.
would consider this an entertaining film to watch, but it is an important one.
It caused some controversy in France, where it was banned for
several years following their withdrawal from the African colony, and the film has been shown by some armed forces to their troops as a study of urban warfare.
Did You Know:
The only professional actor in the film is Jean Martin as
Colonel Mathieu. Director Gillo Pontecorvo wanted at least one professional actor, particularly in that pivotal role. The two argued frequently on set as Pontecorvo was trying to reign in
Martin so that his performance would lie better with those of the non-professionals.