I've never seen such a powerful film on the direct effects of Colonialism on a population. The fact the film was made just four years after independence brings an urgency to it. The film cuts effortlessly between a character driven historical narrative and documentary style reportage. Morricone's soundtrack and particularly the Samba style percussion refrain get across the mounting tension.
Although historical distance allows me an appreciation I don't reserve for the current slate of docu-fictions, it's humbling to see the trauma re-enacted so vividly in a healing Algeria. The people and buildings conjuring a recent suffering for what? A victory lap for anti-fascist causes? Intention aside, I'm in awe of the technical work accomplished in the winding alleys, defining an already important film.
3-4. Eventually becomes a bit tedious and messy once the UN sides with France regarding the Algiers question. Politically complex though it is, I think the film suffers a bit from a lack of individuation about its own characters (the most distinct figure is the colonel). It is a really pretty film, however; and there's a wealth of background detail that makes it a fascinating piece in context. I'm glad I saw it.