Greencine blog

I’m late to the blogging game, but I still recognize a good one when I see it. Having enjoyed David Hudson’s blog entries for the excellent online DVD rental company,, for some time now, I was especially pleased by his entry today regarding the Pentagon’s recent screening of Gillo Pontecorvo‘s classic The Battle of Algiers (1965). This blistering Italian film (initially banned in France) was made only two short years after the French colonialists lost to Algerian independence. It was filmed using nonprofessional actors in the city streets which had only so recently soaked up the blood of innocents and terrorists, revolutionaries, torturers, and trained militia. The film is treated documentary-style with black-and-white handheld footage, bold musical accompaniment (by Ennio Morricone, no less), and intertitles naming the places and exact times of events depicted. In fact, it’s so successful at creating a sense of realism that subsequent prints of the film included a full disclaimer that “not one foot of documentary footage” had been used in its making.

We watch some films because they are great artistic creations that reveal what it means to be human; we watch others because they reflect world events back to us in such a timely, immediate fashion that they’re impossible to ignore. The Battle of Algiers succeeds on both counts, as its depiction of a colonial power and a North African/Middle Eastern city under seige could not be more essential viewing given the current crisis in Iraq. And it appears that even the Pentagon agrees with me.

The film is available on VHS in North America or a handsome Region 2 Italian DVD with English subtitles. I’ll try to cook up a full review this weekend…