La Bataille D’Alger (The Battle of Algiers)

Based on the book by Saadi Yacef, an activist, revolutionary and now senator – The Battle of Algiers was once banned in France and is now widely agreed to be one of the most powerful political films in existence. As one of the most significant movies on the Algerian revolt against the French, made in 1965, this film is a detailed portrayal of the harsh oppressive tactics employed by the French to quash the uprising. The Battle of Algiers provides a unique window into both sides of the fight and does well to show the tension and disparity between the two as and when they collide. The effects of this film so powerful, or the intelligence of the Pentagon so weak, led to a screening in its buildings in 2003 to educate the audience of 40 officers and civilian experts on the rise in radical Americans and the threat revolutionaries hold to the state.

Its use of genuine turning points in Algerian history, such as the bombing of a cafe (one of the sisters is said to have been acting as Djamila Bouhired who was on trial for this very crime) is to its benefit, as was not using any real documentary or news reels. A must see for lovers of black and whites, political movies and those interested in seeing a more representative story of Algeria.


Below is an excerpt from a documentary on the Algerian French war interviewing Saadi Yacef, Edward Said and other key figures.


  1. The battle of Algiers happened in 1957, not 65 … After the wild bombings of 56, General Massu took 10 months to “win it” . But a moral crisis arouse among the French because of the way it’s been won . With fresh memories of Nazi occupation of France, not many French felt OK fighting against people who wanted “freedom” .

    1. Sorry – I meant it was made in 1965, correcting now, thank you!
      About the French discomfort – this is an interesting point, just another example of how power politics between ‘superpowers’ is played out across the globe even today. As I was told by a French friend, it is only fairly ‘recently’ that they have begun to teach this aspect of French history in schools.

  2. Yes, recent history always took a long time to be taught at school, not only Algeria . Events post WWII were not considered as history when I was a pupil . But people were living by that time, and as always, a good half of the French masses in France were opposed to a colonial war . And those who accepted it were not highly motivated, just like for Indochina . Difficult to be an oppressor after having the Gestapo for dinner at home . Look how many British citizens were opposed to the Irak invasion, though the government did it . The half of France admitting class struggle hated this French government and its means. I remember .

    1. In my case, general education in the UK regarding history is often too eurocentric offering a skewed view of the world to the young. You are right in that the actions of a government are reported and taught as a reflection of the sentiment of its citizens. Objectors voices are often drowned out in the history books, if not, then surely the silent majority are ignored.

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