The Battle of Algiers is a figure for liberation and it can still communicate a sense of euphoria to those who experience and study it. The purpose of this book is to account for this power in terms of the film’s complexity and ambivalence– in terms, that is, of the film’s ‘impure’ means. Building on a large body of scholarship, the book focuses on the key themes of location, address and temporality. What is the precise role of the city of Algiers in the film? What are the consequences of its address to multiple audiences, including those in the old colonizing North? What are the effects of the film’s activity of reenactment and what can these tell us about revolutionary agency? Ultimately, the account here of the power of The Battle of Algiers is intended to shed light on the means and capacities of historical and political cinema as such.

Alan O’Leary is Professor of Film and Cultural Studies and member of the Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures at the University of Leeds. He has published several books and many articles on Italian and other cinemas. He is currently leading a large project on fi lm and history and collaborating on a hybrid art/academic project with dance artist Marie Hallager Andersen.