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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A Little Bit of History Repeating

“The Battle of Algiers” was the third installment in The William Joiner Center 2004 Spring Film Series, “Images of War: International Films from Algeria to Vietnam” and was shown last Wednesday in the Media Auditorium in the lower level of the Healey Library. Paul Atwood of the Joiner Center commented, “This is the most famous political film ever made.”

Director Gillo Pontecorvo’s film is a documentary-style account of a bloody, anti-colonialist urban uprising in Algeria, but actually contained no real footage of the revolt. Atwood further commented, “It was the most humiliating French defeat in history…if you haven’t seen this film, you’re in for an experience”.

For more than 130 years, the French occupied Algeria. This movie recreates the crucial events that took place in the city of Algiers. The National Liberation Front (FLN) began a war of liberation, using terrorism in an attempt to end French colonialism.

Atwood explained that the main character of the film was “no hero in the Hollywood sense of the word.” A brave and ruthless terrorist, sympathy for his cause elevates him to heroic status, especially when most of the revolutionaries are captured, and he is the only one left.

The more French troops came to occupy the Muslim section of Algiers, the more terrorist attacks prevailed. The film outlines the careful planning behind terrorist attacks. Difficulties posed by checkpoints set up at the edge of the city and preventing bombs from being carried out, were overcome by using women, who carried the bombs in their purses, since French soldiers were not allowed to search them.

But as “The War on Terrorism” unfolds today, this film provides insight into the perspective of the “terrorists.” The movie portrayed the terrorists as oppressed human beings who would do anything for their freedom, and mirrors the situation in the occupied territories today. Terrorist attacks are an endless cycle; the more people are oppressed, the more terrorist attacks there will be.

“The Battle of Algiers” so closely parallels the situation in Iraq today that even Pentagon officials were required to watch the movie, and it was the most popular work so far in the Joiner Center Film Series. The UMB community filled up almost every seat. Check out the next film in the series, “100 Days,” which will be shown on Wednesday, April 7, at 2:30pm in the Healey Library, Media Auditorium, lower level.