This is easily one of the most important films for anyone alive today to see. The Pentagon had a special screening of it a few years ago because they felt that the situation in Iraq was very similar to the what the French faced in colonial Algeria. This film takes us back to the late 1950’s where a resistance movement, once restricted to the wilderness of Algeria, has moved into the metropolitan area of Algiers. We follow the beginning of this movement as it bombs cafes, kills cops, and causes others forms of mayhem.
About halfway through the two hour film the French bring in the military to stop the fighting. A one Colonel Mathieu heads this group and is very good at what he does. He is able to stop them, but the tactics he and his men have to use to win this battle ensure that France will lose the war for continued control of Algeria. These tactics include terror, violent interrogations, propaganda, etc.
The film is shot in a documentary style that looks and feels like you’re watching real news footage of the whole incident. It’s one of the finest examples of realism I have ever seen. You really feel like you are on streets when these actual historical incidents occurred. The similarities to the war in Iraq are eerie and the lessons of paramount importance. This is another one that I cannot recommend highly enough.