Analysis of the Historical Meaning of the Movie the Battle of Algiers

Paper Type:  Movie review
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1643 Words
Date:  2022-06-04


The modern historians have increasingly moved away from the history that chronicles the battles, treaties and other important events to the one that tries to offer the daily life image. Notably, films have formed an essential part of this form of representation. In fact, historians have tremendously used the movies to discern some of these events that left huge impacts on the people, or which transformed their lives in one way or the other. The movie, "Battle of Algiers" is an example of such a representation of an event that people in Algiers underwent in the quest to fight for their rights and free themselves from the oppression. Notably, the movie is set to offer a reflection of the struggle in the North African nation to attain independence. Notably, the film is set in Algiers, Algeria's capital. All the events and the scenes vividly reflect the 1957's Algeria War that involved the fights between the insurgents, the FLN, and the French paratroopers. Undeniably, the Battle of Algiers is a true reflection of this Algerian War. This paper will, therefore, provide the analysis of the historical meaning as well as the representation in the movie.

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Historical Representation and Meanings

As mentioned, the Battle of Algiers was a turning point in the Algerian War of independence. Occurring in the tiny place in the streets of the Algiers Casbah from 1956 to 1957, and involved the Front de Liberation Nationale (FNL) and the elite paratroopers belonging to the French Army. A large proportion of the movie is shot as a flashback and the representation of a freedom fighter who leads his team to rise against the French soldiers. Historically, this depiction in the movie goes precisely to the Ali Pointe, who was a cornered leader of the insurgency. It is almost impossible to focus on any part of the film as the only climax in the movie. Observably, the movie is riddled with multiple intense and explosive scenes that are all centered on the flashbacks. In fact, it offers a more in-depth sight and understanding of the conflict dynamics. The director of the movie achieves this by giving a detailed race between the fighting fronts. A large proportion of the film is set to depict the spirit that thrust the insurgents to seek freedom and finally their independence from the imperialists.

The spirit demonstrated by the insurgents in the film, in this case, is a reflection of the spirit of the nationalism that the FLN demonstrated during the Algerian War. In fact, the causes of the Battle of Algiers can be traced back to the history of the Algerian Nationalism. The FLN launched a series of the bombing attacks across Algeria on the 1 November 1954. Historically, the FLN established itself and made to spread across all the backstreets of the city of Algiers and ready to have an actual encounter with the French soldiers. Irrespective of their political allegiances, all Algerians were required to rally behind the FLN ready to face the imperialists as it was the new Algerian embodiment. Significantly, violence was at the center of the revolution, and those who put their hopes in the gradualist solution were denounced as the traitors and reformists. For the Algerians, there was no any other option than supporting the FLN as the violence was keyed into the absolutes. Based on the fact that it had two interconnected targets. These included overthrowing the French in the colony as well as predominating all over all other political rivals. On the movie, it is evident that the insurgents, under the control of their leaders could now give orders to other political opponents for support against their enemies. The depiction of this in the movie signifies the abilities of the FLN, during the Algerian War, to command other political groups such as predominate over all other political rivals. Now the FLN alone could give orders and the existing parties-the Algerian Communist Party (PCA), the Union Democratique du Manifeste Algerien (UDMA) and Mouvement pour le Triomphe des Libertes Democratiques (MTLD). As the insurgents order other rivalry groups in the movie to cease and support them, is the same way that these political groups were ordered to dissolve and provide their support against the French imperialists, who had settled in Algeria as early as 1830.

The flow of events in the film tremendously adds to its finesse and thereby improves the extent or the degree of reality. A significant important aspect is this is that it provides a basis through which the FLN had to take up arms and rise against the French soldiers. Undeniably, this is the vital part of this work and makes it achieve its objective. If the movie were not able to accomplish this, there would be no reason convincing reason why the fighting occurred in the first place. This aspect tremendously reinforces the fact that the movie is devoid of any propagandist thing irrespective of the fact that the government of Algeria supported it. On the film, the cause of the conflict is the persistent injustice or the oppression experienced by the natives. Although this is not directly revealed to the viewers, the movie exhibits the oppression of the Algerians through various ways.

Firstly, the physical living space inhabited by the Arabs and the Europeans reveal this kind of oppression. Notably, the two populations were separated into two locations with the Europeans living in the modern city by the sea and were full of light, stores, buildings, as well as the automobiles. The Algerians, on the other hand, inhabited the impoverished areas in the dark Casbah. Just like it is depicted in the movie, the "Battle of Algiers," where the insurgents rose against the French, it is undeniable that the Arabs ganged against the European imperialist with the aim of overcoming this kind of oppression. Though not depicted in the movie, the condescending and arrogant attitude of the French towards the Algerians contributed to the war. The film representation of this attitude is however not considerably depicted. The Europeans tried to dissuade the Algerian population from rebelling but reminding them that their colonial power had provided them the civilization and prosperity.

It is noticeable that the French, throughout the film, refers to the Algerian as the dirty Arabs and rats. In fact, this is the exact way through the Algerians were oppressed or treated during the Algeria War in 1957. In a broader note, this is depicted through the dehumanization of the Arabs Algerians which is tremendously apparent through the tapeworm metaphor used by Lieutenant-Colonel Mathieu when explaining the mechanisms through which the FLN. Based on the fact that the only way to kill the tapeworm is through decapitation, through his reasoning, therefore, the only way to deal with the Algerian insurgents was to kill and disorient its leadership. In the movie, the harrowing and radicalization experienced by Ali when he witnessed the beheading of one of the prisoners signified dehumanization. However, this technique failed to work, and it never deterred the movement.

The Battle of Algiers is a seminal political movie that undeniably stands the test of time-based on the fact that it has offered a significant historical representation of the Algerian War nearly half a decade later. The theme of violence forms one of the primary thematic issues in the Battle. It is evident that Pontecorvo has integrated a number of the Fanon's theories with the aim of justifying the violence by the insurgents, or the FLN as a means of eliminating the oppression from the French. The depiction of the violence in the movie is graphic and distressing because the director does not shy away from the brutality of the violence that occurred. His objective was to illustrate the ideas and the events that unfolded during the Algerian War in 1957. The film is tremendously cerebral to some degree based on the fact that it challenges the viewer to meditate regarding the reason for violence, its importance especially through the insights given in the movie. As part of the offering the historical information, for example, it becomes evident that the violence was the only mechanism through which the Algerian's could gain humanity.


In conclusion, the movie battle of Algiers provides a representation of an event that people in Algiers underwent in the quest to fight for their rights and free themselves from the oppression. Every stage of the conflict offers an explicit illustration of the manner in which two sides of the disputes change their tactics in a bid to emerge victorious in the battle. The movie is tremendously excellent and unbiased description of the revolutionary war that featured the insurgents against French soldiers. It attempts to unmask some of the sufferings the Algerians underwent in their quest to rise against the oppression, colonial injustices. In another view, the spirit demonstrated by the insurgents in the film, in this case, is a reflection of the spirit of the nationalism that the FLN showed during the Algerian War. In reality, the movie offers exclusive revelation of the truths if the atrocities of the war between the French Army and the soldiers of the FLN. The brutality depicted affected everyone. The majority of people, just like in the movie were ganged down and this provides sufficient explanations of the reasons behind the lack of peace. I feel that the development of this movie was tremendously credible and lead to the realization of the objective that the producer intended. Finally, the film is indicative regarding the manner it is staged and the excellent script. A significant critical aspect is this is that it offers the foundation through which the FLN had to take up arms and rise against the French soldiers.


Daulatzai, Sohail. 2016. Fifty years of The Battle of Algiers: past as prologue. Minneapolis: Minn.

Drif, Zohra. 2017. Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter. Just World Books.

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Analysis of the Historical Meaning of the Movie the Battle of Algiers. (2022, Jun 04). Retrieved from

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