Friday Film (93)

For Bouchra…

The other day, I was chatting to a visiting student who, it turned out, was born and brought up in Algeria. We didn’t get the opportunity to talk for more than a few minutes; but in that short space of time our conversation touched upon both the history of film and, as it were, the history of history — in particular, Algeria’s 132 years as a French possession subjected to literally every variety of brutal violence by its colonial overlords.

Since Algeria — almost four times the area of France, and nowadays Africa’s largest nation-state — won its struggle for independence 56 years ago, I daresay that not even the parents of my young acquaintance would have been born in time to see Charles de Gaulle magnanimously handing the country back to itself. Interestingly, though, my friend still knew enough about her nation’s eight-year war of liberation (1954-62) to talk about the execution (by guillotine) of one of its freedom fighters — and to suggest that I should watch the 1966 Italian-Algerian historical film The Battle of Algiers (in the original Italian release La battaglia di Algeri). And so, of course, I went and looked it up on YouTube — and its trailer, too… Continue reading