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The Battle of Algiers - 3 Disc Set

" The most common form of warfare since 1945 has involved irregular resistance fighters attacking conventional forces and then disappearing back into the population. Bombs planted by civilians, often women and children, have served as deadly weapons in this war. The United States, France, Russia, Israel, Northern Ireland, South Africa and several South American states have all had their experiences with urban guerrillas."

"Gillo Pontecorvo's "The Battle of Algiers," filmed in 1965, released in late 1967, is the crucial film about this new kind of warfare. It involves the proving-ground of the emerging tactics in Algeria from 1954 to 1962, as France tried and failed to contain a nationalist uprising. Methods that were successful in Algeria would be adapted by Castro and Guevara in Cuba, by the Viet Cong, the Palestinians, the IRA and South African militants, and are currently being employed in Iraq."

"Pontecorvo's film remains even today a triumph of realistic production values. Filming on location in Algiers, using the real locations in the European quarter and the Casbah (which sheltered the FLN), he achieved such a convincing actuality that he found it necessary to issue a disclaimer: There is "not one foot" of documentary or newsreel footage in his two hours of film. Everything was shot live, even riot scenes in which police battle civilian demonstrators."

"The strength of "The Battle of Algiers," the reason it is being viewed in the Pentagon 35 years after its making, is that it is lucid and dispassionate in its examination of the tactics of both sides." - Roger Ebert

DVD - Criterion Collection - 3 Disc Set

DISC 1: The Battle of Algiers features:

  • New high-definition digital transfer, enhanced for widescreen televisions
  • Production gallery
  • Theatrical and re-release trailers
  • Poster gallery
  • New and improved English subtitle translation

DISC 2: Pontecorvo and the Film features:

  • Gillo Pontecorvo: The Dictatorship of Truth (1992): a 37-minute documentary, narrated by literary critic Edward Said
  • Exclusive 51-minute documentary on the making of The Battle of Algiers, featuring new interviews with the director, cinematographer, composer, editor, actors, and film historians
  • Five Directors (17 Mins., 2004) Spike Lee, Mira Nair, Julian Schnabel, Steven Soderbergh, and Oliver Stone on the films influence, style, and importance

DISC 3: The Film and History features:

  • Remembering History: an exclusive documentary that reconstructs the Algerian experience of the battle for independence, featuring interviews with historians and revolutionaries, including military leader Saadi Yacef
  • "Etats d’Armies"(2002): A 28-minute documentary featuring senior French military officers recalling the use of torture and execution ot combat the rebellion
  • The Battle of Algiers: A Case Study (25 mins.,2004): Richard A. Clarke, former national counterterrorism coordinator and author of Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, discusses the film's relevence with Michael A. Sheehan, former State Department coordinator for counterterrorism, in a conversation moderated by Chrisopher E. Isham, chief of investigative projects for ABC News
  • Gillo Pontecorvo's Return to Algiers (58 mins., 1992): the filmmaker revisits the Algerian people after three decades on independence


  • A 56-page book featuring excerpts from Saadi Yacef's original account of his arrest, a reprinted excerpt from the film's screenplay, a reprinted interview with co-writer Franco Solinas, a new essay by film scholar Peter Matthews, and biographical sketches on key figures in the French-Algerian War

Curator's Comments:
Read Roger Ebert's essay on this DVD Classic.

Director: Gillo Pontecorvo
Black & White
125 minutes
Released: 1965
Rated: NR

Country: France
Language: In French & Arabic with optional English subtitles
Genre: Drama, War


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