The Battle of Algiers is a fascinating example of the evocation of thought that can be brought out by a film with such power. Each individual who views the film comes out with a slightly different opinion onto which side the film is skewed. Certainly the film pulls no punches in it's depiction of the events in which the film represents. However, in all indications, Gillo Pontecorvo sought to make a neutral sided film that showed the futility of oppression and war. While one side may come out as the victor, the end result is not painless. This is expressed through the different mediums and methods Pontecorvo used to show the action.
For one, the film is neorealistic, to the point where it may be confused with documentary footage. Rich, high contrast black and white is a metaphor for the subject matter presented. The entire battle is presented as plain truth, in which real faces and names perish. Even though there is a side with an advantage, there is never a true side that is shown as an overall protagonist. This method is supported by the clever, but subtle use of a soundtrack by Italian composer Ennio Morricone.
In a crucial turning point in the film, the French aggravate the situation with the ALF by placing a bomb well inside a populated portion of the Casbah. The scenes that follow show the Algerians picking up wounded, dead, and the pieces of their changing lives. This is the first place where Morricone introduces the main lietmotif: a soft musical score in a minor key that is reminiscent of the funeral marches and Mozart's “Requiem.” At this point, the political leading of the film slides to the side of the Algerians. It is the start of a series of emotional manipulations by Pontecorvo.
As the film moves on the Algerians conduct terrorist attacks on the French quarter of Algeria. After these attacks, the same lietmotif softly plays in the background while the French citizens survey the damage. The viewer manipulation now sways into...
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