I watched the movie Battle for Algiers last night. It is a French film, so I had to read it, but that's actually alright. Sometimes reading a film makes me pay attention to it even closer, because I don't understand French (aside from the occasional "oui," "messeur") I am forced to really watch the images on the screen, I can't flip through a magazine or close my eyes and get the movie through my ears.
The Battle for Algiers is about the Algerian revolution in the late 50's against French colonial rule. It is actually a brutal movie. The situation quickly degenerates into guerrilla warfare on both sides. The French blow up an apartment building, the Algerian fighters blow up two cafes and a discotheque. The French torture captives for information, the Algerians shoot the French policemen patrolling the streets. It becomes a tit-for-tat kind of movie very quickly.
One cannot help but link our present situation in Iraq to the past situation in Algeria. I found myself asking the question "why" a lot. And I wasn't able to get any good answers from the film.
It is a dark film. It has to be, there is very little to celebrate in the film. Music is very important and certainly helps to move the story, but also set the tone. To the film. This is a film that requires more than one viewing in order to detach from the film, but on the other hand, it is important to work with the film.
I'm glad I bought the movie. It is an important addition to my collection.
Isn't it sad how lessons learned from past mistakes really only resonate for a decade or so before we have to learn it all over again?
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