Winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1975, Chronicle of the Years of Fire portrays Algeria’s struggle for independence from French colonial rule. The story follows a peasant’s migration from his drought-stricken village to his eventual participation with the Algerian resistance movement, just prior to the outbreak of the Algerian War of Independence. —IMDb
One of the most important Algerian filmmakers is veteran director Mohammdad Lakhdar Hamina. His film Chronicles of the Years of Fire won the Grand Prix at Cannes in 1975. The film is a beautifully shot epic tale chronicling, through the life of his lead character, the hardships suffered under French colonialism and the emerging resistance to occupation. Lakhdar Hamina’s previous film December (1972) is a moving and accomplished exploration of the psychology and moral dilemmas of a French army officer and an Algerian resistance leader, as the two embark on a battle of wills in an interrogation involving escalating levels of torture and murder. These two films are a genuine and moving exploration of issues fundamental to Algeria and France and whose international resonance remains live today, yet are surprisingly little explored. Lakhdar Hamina is a key figure in the development of Algerian cinema, and created a new international awareness of it. His influence can be felt on Algerian… read more
A massive historical epic about the Algerian War of Independence, Chronicle of the Years of Fire is a beautifully shot film that ultimately is not the masterpiece that it has been advertised as. Why? Because it is three hours of propaganda. Not that propaganda cannot make great art, but three hours of it is excessive. No doubt there was some real talent behind this. In terms of visual storytelling, this is on par with the great historical epics. The problem is that the characters are not developed outside of their purpose for serving the larger events. Each person plays their role and they do not shift from that role. There are some incredibly stirring sequences, no doubt, and you really want the Algerians to hand the French colonialists their asses on a plate, but by not including the personal and human dimension to the politics it just does not work. And maybe there is some cynicism on my part here. During the period this movie was made, Algeria had essentially replaced a foreign brutal military dictatorship with a homegrown brutal military dictatorship. The promises of the independence war were never fulfilled, and as history proved things only got worse. It is hard not to think about the reality while watching the fiction.