A new book by Alan O’Leary for Mimesis International
Commissioned by Algerians and made by Italians with dialogue in Arabic and French, The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966) is a classic of political cinema influential on art-house and popular cinema alike. The film’s complex consideration of the efficacy of torture and terrorism means it is a key text for thinking about the ethics of conflict, and it is studied not only by scholars of cinema but also by political scientists and historians, not to mention the military and revolutionary groups. If The Battle of Algiers is a ‘birth of a nation’ film in a melodramatic mode (something regularly disavowed in favour of its supposedly ‘documentary’ realism), it is also an ‘end of empire’ film. It ambivalently pictures the failure of a Utopian project imposed by the French colonizer and looks forward in time to circumstances in postcolonial Europe even as it celebrates the achievement of an African nation.
Alan O’Leary is Director of Research and Innovation in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, University of Leeds. He has published several books and many articles on Italian cinema and co-founded the annual Film Issue of The Italianist. He is Currently leading the ‘Italian Cinemas/Italian Histories’ project and his next project will be devoted to the ‘trivial’.
The Battle of Algiers, Alan O’Leary
Soon on sale for Mimesis International