French Algerian War Movies

Want to know about the most famous French Algerian war movies? Read our guide for more facts & information…

Most Americans are familiar with Algiers as a place of intrigue during World War II when French General Charles DeGaulle commanded French and Algerian forces in North Africa after Paris fell to the Germans. In fact, most Algerians were loyal to the French during the war and fought saliently against the German forces. Their experience as soldiers in the Second World War may have been the spark which began their struggle for independence from France. Following Algeria’s hard won independence in 1963 several high profile French Algerian War movies were released.

The Battle of Algiers (1966)

Originally released in 1966 by Italian filmmaker Gillo Pontecorvo the film dramatically shows the Algerian struggle to gain independence from France in the 1950s and early 1960s. In the movie, French paratroopers sent in to Algiers to find the leaders of the Algerian National Liberation Front are shown using intimidation, torture and even murder to quash the resistance. It was banned in France, but nominated for 3 Academy Awards in the United States. It made news in 2003 when the Pentagon screened the movie several months after the war in Iraq was over. The American treatment of Arab prisoners in Abu Gharib and Guantanamo Bay has been compared to the actions of the French paratroopers in the movie.

The Betrayal (2005)

From French filmmaker Phillipe Faucon, this film depicts the day to day activities of a group of Algerian soldiers serving in the French army in 1958. Faucon himself was born in Morocco near the Algerian border. The film is based on an autobiographical report and focuses on the moral dilemma faced by the young Algerian soldiers who face the scorn of locals who regard them as traitors and the contempt of the French soldiers who regard them as inferiors. It chronicles some of the brutality of the French soldiers toward the local population in their attempts to ferret out information on members of the Algerian National Liberation Front.

Intimate Enemies (2007)

This French film released by filmmaker Florent Emilio Siri is the first French film to deal with the French Algerian War realistically with scenes of barbarism and violence that were lacking in earlier French films on the subject. The fictional story is based on a non-fiction book by Patrick Rotman who co-wrote the movie script. One of the stars of the film, Benoit Magimel, compared the French Algerian War to America’s Vietnam War because of the political passion it incited among the public.

A number of other French Algerian War movies have been made, mostly in France, dealing with the various aspects of the war. Some are fictional and some are documentaries, but as government censorship on the subject has relaxed, French filmmakers have found the topic relevant and rich in possibilities and it is likely that more films dealing with the French Algerian War will be made.

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