BOA is a brilliant film, and one thing that flashes when I think of this movie are the protest/revolt/riot scenes at the end, I have never seen such authentic large scale crowd handling ever again.CGI can be used to achieve this kind of effect evident from movies today, be it the battle scenes from Lord of the Rings or any other war movie.Circa 1966, these would have been impossible to imagine.
Wikipedia quotes that the scenes were not a part of any newsreel.
what do you think?
I think they fuckin kicked ass and were very effective. They bear many similarities to the finale of Children of Men as well. However Aligers tops that in the feeling of realism.
I am seeing this for the first time in theatres on Sunday! I am so excited!
Best political film ever.
Those final scenes give me goosebumps each time I watch the film. I wish it was required for every citizen to see this film.
The crowd scenes were not newsreel images, but products of Gillo Pontecorvo’s masterful use of crowds in his films. Also, Pontecorvo was given a free hand to use as many extras as he wanted for these scenes, since the (newly independent) Algerians saw it as their patriotic duty to facilitate the film’s production. You can see Pontecorvo’s skill in manipulating crowds in Burn! as well. And Drew, is this the first time you’ll be seeing it in general, or just in the theater? The first time I saw it was on a crappy VHS and I was still blown away; I can’t imagine seeing it for the first time on the big screen . . . that would be incredible.
I disagree that CGI is the solution to all crowd scenes; I think it depends a lot on the look and mood you are after.
If it is a fantasy film, where things by definition aren’t completely real looking to begin with, sure, but some films just call for a big, messy, sweaty angry crowd, and there is nothing like a suitably riled-up mob of extras to create that.
As you said, Andy, in BOA it is authentic-looking. Why? Because it is real.
We can pretty much all tell when we see the ‘sea of humanity’ represented by hours of rendering as opposed to hundreds of locals.
Just because it can be done and is “easier” doesn’t mean it should be done.
I couldn’t begin to imagine “Battle of Algiers” with CGI.
The crowd scenes are among the best ever put on film; there’s no arguement there. CGI, had it been available would have just ruined the movie and completely flipped the film’s aesthetic on it’s head. When BOA was originally released, Pontecorvo had a disclaimer at the beginning of the film stating that their was absolutely no newsreel footage was whatsoever. However, I don’t think the Criterion release still has it.
good points guys….
and Drew, lucky you….on the big screen, I am confident it will be a big scream experience…
I show this every spring term on the big screen and it always is one of the best received films of the year.
Another intriguing aspect I find about this film is tactics employed by the Algerian rebels as well as counter plans by the French forces are to this day prevalent and relevant. Nothing seems outdated, the way civil war is fought by the resurgents and how tough it is for the military to induce order into mayhem where the citizens play double agents (help the rebels as much as they can and dump them just like that when the cover is blown). Reminds me of the villagers in Seven Samurai
I heard BOA was also screened at Pentagon to better understand how to deal with the civilians…one of the very few instances where a movie might have helped people in a bigger context and for a bigger cause.
There is a whole fascinating history to this film. Not only the Pentagon, but several other revolutionary groups around the globe, including the Viet Cong and the Black Panthers. In fact, one of the primary reasons top brass at the Pentagon wanted to study the film is because those other groups were using it as a kind of training manual, a ‘how-to’ guide to terrorism.
Also, in 2003, this film was the most imported title into Iraq.
There are several articles available, but there is also a wonderful book about the film (it also includes the shooting script) titled Gillo Pontecorvo’s THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS, published in 1970. It is out-of-print, but you can still get it on rare book sites like abebooks.com and the like. I heartily recommend it.
" …one of the very few instances where a movie might have helped people in a bigger context and for a bigger cause." ?! Come on, you guys. The fight for the liberation of Algiers was a nationalist movement for independence from colonialism and oppression. Have you read about the systematic torture, the rapes, the concentration camps institutionalized by the French government? There was no other way for the Algerian people to respond and to claim freedom. And Pontecorvo pays homage (beautifully!) to that plea. The Pentagon, on the other hand, simply commits acts of genocide.
The Film george bush and cronies should have watched before going into Iraq. And Juan I hardly believe the U.S. forces commit acts of genocide.
I’m seeing this in 2.5 hours in theatres!!!! I am so excited!
so Drew, tell us about your experience…..
@DREW – Congratulations in seeing Battle Of Algiers- it’s one of the all-time best film and surely quite an incredible experience for you seeing it for the first time esp. on the big screen.
BTW folks, let’s not get carried away comparing the Algerian revolution to the ongoing war in Iraq. A nationalist revolution is different in comparison to a sectarian/ tribal terrorism fueled by outside extremist influences (It’s ironic that in recent years, the Algerian government itself had to deal with the latter). It’s not that simple, though equally tragic. – just my 2 cents.
I feel like relating the Algerian revolution to what’s going on in Israel is much more just than the Iraq situation.
Point well taken, Noel. And I think what really counts here is that we all agree on Battle of Algiers’ cinematic greatness. And, Drew, I’m also glad that you can see this movie in a theater. I can still recall my feeling of absolute amazement when I did that, back in the late 60’s.
I saw The Battle of Algiers last night at the American Cinematheque and it was marvelous! I own the Criterion DVD but hadn’t seen the film in a couple years. This movie is devestatingly brilliant, one of the ten best films ever made. And seeing it with an audience definitely heightens the experience. There were a lot of responses from the audience during the press conference scene when the French colonel tries to convince the press that they do not torture. This film is painfully prevelant today and ironic that the same arguments that are made by the French in this film were being made by the previous administration. The comparisons to Iraq are completely justified – occupation is occupation, no matter what you “say” your intentions are. But more than that, the explicit debate about torture in this film could easily be taken from the headlines today.
For anyone who has not seen this film, buy the Criterion today! You will not be disappointed.
It was both incredible and torturous. I think it might be the film that best shows how awful war is because in war there are no good guys, just killers. One side bombed civilians, the other side tortured. While watching it I just wanted one side to hurry up and win so the killing would stop. It was a very effective movie.
Fredo, Where were you sitting in the theatre? A group of people were sitting behind me and talking about The Autuers…was that you?
Ha! I was with a group of people but I don’t remember talking about The Autuers. Hmmm. We were sitting in the back, on the right side. Great movie, glad to see so many came out to see it on the big screen.
All the person said is that Cleo from 5 to 7 was available free on “that website the auteurs”. Were you in the very back or the back of the lower level?
Oh, maybe? I think we were talking about that because in the schedule for the American Cinematheque Cleo from 5 to 7 is showing there later this month. That’s sounds familar – in which case, that was me.
Are you going to go see Agnes Varda in person?
(Sorry to hijack a thread about such a wonderful film)
Probably not – as stated in other threads (and something I try to keep to myself), I’m not a big fan of the French New Wave so maybe I’ll watch it online for free to see if I like it. However they’re showing a bunch of Criterion films this summer at the Laemmle theaters and I was thinking of forcing myself to go see The 400 Blows. Where were you sitting in the theater? I was really surprised at how many people were there. Too often I’ve been to screenings of older films and the theater is nearly empty.
I was sitting on the right towards the back on the seat next to the aisle of the middle section (my dad was sitting on the aisle).
Not just The 400 Blows but The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Seven Samurai, La Strada, and a few more. I am literally shaking in excitement.
I too was shocked with the number of people there. The emptiest theatre at the Aero for me was the double feature of The Trial and Macbeth. Oddly enough it was one of my favorite experiences.
where do you guys live?
You’re just a kid! lol, just kidding. Wow, I admire your taste in films – I honestly didn’t really start appreciating older and foreign films until I was in my mid-20s. I even now I still have a hard time with a lot of “classics” (such as The Seventh Seal – that movie is too tough for my little brain to handle and the whole time I was watching it I kept being reminded of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey).
Hopefully at some point I’ll learn to appreciate these films (or at least be able to understand them..hahah!).
Whatever happened with your film? Did you figure out how to get the DVD to work?
Filmy Andy – we live in LA
Wow. As long as I live in North Carolina, I guess I’ll have no chance of seeing The Battle of Algiers in a theater. Good thing I got my Criterion.