La battaglia di Algeri
starring Brahim Haggiag, Jean Martin, Yacef Saadi, Samia Kerbash
screenplay by Gillo Pontecorvo & Franco Solinas
directed by Gillo Pontecorvo
by Travis Mackenzie Hoover Questions abound during a screening of The Battle of Algiers, first and foremost: what the hell is it? It's not exactly agitprop, not quite a thriller, not really a historical epic--it's a strange bird that combines each of these forms into a one-off genre all its own. The film has a reputation as high as the ceiling (as the multiple screenings in my film-school days can attest), and given its singularity, it's not hard to see why: this is not some dowdy history lesson or humourless political screed, but a swift, shapely love letter to those who fought and died in the name of Algerian independence. As a love letter, it's so typically wrapped up in its own feelings that it can't relate the struggle to something outside of its own borders--but there's no denying the writers' commitment and depth of feeling, as well as the significant impact of The Battle of Algiers' bullet to the heart of empire.