The Battle of Algiers

1966 Drama

This highly political film about the Algerian struggle for independence from France took "Best Film" honors at the 1966 Venice Film Festival. The bulk of the film is shot in flashback, presented as the memories of Ali (Brahim Haggiag), a leading member of the Algerian Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN), when finally captured by the French in 1957. Three years earlier, Ali was a petty thief who joined the secretive organization in order to help rid the Casbah of vice associated with the colonial government. The film traces the rebels' struggle and the increasingly extreme measures taken by the French government to quell what soon becomes a nationwide revolt. After the flashback, Ali and the last of the FLN leaders are killed, and the film takes on a more general focus, leading to the declaration of Algerian independence in 1962. Director Gillo Pontecorvo's careful re-creation of a complicated guerrilla struggle presents a rather partisan view of some complex social and political issues, which got the film banned in France for many years. That should not come as a surprise, for La Battaglia di Algeri was subsidized by the Algerian government and -- with the exception of Jean Martin and Tommaso Neri as French officers -- the cast was entirely Algerian as well. At least three versions exist, running 135, 125, and 120 minutes. more..

Director: Gillo Pontecorvo

Starring: Yacef Saadi, Jean Martin, Brahim Haggiag, Tommaso Neri, Samia Kerbash


  • Achieves its success through a combination of attitude and technique, uniting, to exceptional effect, a way of viewing the world morally while looking at it physically.

    Kenneth Turan - Los Angeles Times

    19 January 2013

  • The Battle of Algiers is a thinking person's action film in which there are winners -- but no heroes.

    Ty Burr - The Boston Globe

    19 January 2013

  • Like all masterpieces, it speaks to later ages as powerfully and intelligently as to its own.

    David Sterritt - Christian Science Monitor

    19 January 2013

  • An extraordinary movie that ruffled many feathers when it first came out. Almost 40 years later, it retains the poignancy it delivered back then. Its message is not lost in our present state of affairs.

    Marta Barber - Miami Herald

    19 January 2013

  • The film's proudest boast is that nary a frame comes from documentary footage...Every riot, every explosion, every seemingly spontaneous gundown in the streets of Algiers was staged, then shot in black-and-white stock that intentionally echoes newsreel footage.

    Lawrence Toppman - Charlotte Observer

    19 January 2013


  • Best Director

    Academy Awards (1969)

  • BAFTA Awards (1972)

  • Best Cinematography, B/W (Migliore Fotografia in Bianco e Nero)

    Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists (1967)

  • Best Foreign Language Film

    Kinema Junpo Awards (1968)

  • Best Supporting Actor

    National Society of Film Critics Awards (1968)