Universal acclaim - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 20
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 20
  3. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. 100
    The movie is a marvel - bold, lucid and succinct (even at 123 minutes). It's also harrowing and moving in its depiction of noncombatant men, women and children caught between terrorism and counter-terrorism.
  2. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The Battle of Algiers is a thinking person's action film in which there are winners -- but no heroes.
  3. The film's proudest boast is that nary a frame comes from documentary footage...Every riot, every explosion, every seemingly spontaneous gundown in the streets of Algiers was staged, then shot in black-and-white stock that intentionally echoes newsreel footage.
  4. It's one of the best movies about revolutionary and anticolonial activism ever made, convincing, balanced, passionate, and compulsively watchable as storytelling.
  5. Like all masterpieces, it speaks to later ages as powerfully and intelligently as to its own.
  6. This astonishingly gritty film maintains its strong niche between Roberto Rossellini's "Open City" and Paul Greengrass' "Bloody Sunday" as a pinnacle of war-torn neo-realist drama.
  7. Reviewed by: David Parkinson
    Has a vigour, a commitment and an intelligence that is absent from too much modern cinema.
  8. Nearly four decades ago, Pontecorvo anatomized the very form of modern terrorist warfare: the hidden cells, the cultish leaders, the brutish cycle of attack and counterattack.
  9. 90
    A classic of politically engaged filmmaking, based on a book by Saadi Yacef, a former FLN leader who also produced the picture and played a version of himself.
  10. 100
    Achieves its success through a combination of attitude and technique, uniting, to exceptional effect, a way of viewing the world morally while looking at it physically.
  11. 100
    An extraordinary movie that ruffled many feathers when it first came out. Almost 40 years later, it retains the poignancy it delivered back then. Its message is not lost in our present state of affairs.
  12. What reveals Pontecorvo as an artist, and not simply a propagandist of genius, is the sorrow he tries to stifle but that comes flooding through anyway--the sense that ALL sides in this conflict have lost their souls, and that all men are carrion.
  13. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    It's back in a handsome new black-and-white print, and it's still powerful stuff -- you can see why Pauline Kael wrote that it was "probably the only film that has ever made middle-class audiences believe in the necessity of bombing innocent people."
  14. The French are very much the villains of the saga and, naturally, have always hated the movie (it was banned in Paris until 1971); and it remains controversial in other quarters as well because it seems to embrace, even celebrate, terrorism as a political tool.
  15. Whatever the news-linked reasons for its revival, Pontecorvo's film is wonderfully worth seeing, or re-seeing, for its own sake.
  16. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    What makes the movie's power creditable is Pontecorvo's ability to present combatants on both sides as multidimensional, nonheroic human beings, even though it's obvious where the director's own sentiments lie. (Review of original release)
  17. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    It's a dedicated effort with importance as a 'document.' (Review of original release)
  18. A prototype of news-footage realism, the film makes shrewd use of handheld sloppiness, misjudged focus, overexposure, and you-are-there camera upset; the payoff is the scent of authentic panic.
  19. 90
    The greatness of The Battle of Algiers lies in its ability to embrace moral ambiguity without succumbing to it.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 48 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. Sep 13, 2013
    Algerian Government subsidized and hired Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo to shoot a film to recount the bloody clash between FLN (AlgerianAlgerian Government subsidized and hired Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo to shoot a film to recount the bloody clash between FLN (Algerian National Liberation Front) and French colonial only few years after its independence (1962). The film was not only won GOLDEN LION in Venice in 1966 and an Academy Awards nomination for BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM in 1967 but also was nominated for BEST DIRECTOR and SCREENPLAY in 1969 for a rare second round.

    THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS impresses its viewers with a haunting collection of close-up portraits of various people (both French and Algerian) under a soul-searching orchestration emphasized by stark chiaroscuro, it was years after Italian Neo-Realism, but the non-professional cast (the only pro is a wiry and bulged-eyed Jean Martin, who commands a stance of military mettle perfectly) and locale-revamping contributes a great amount of authenticity in the final work. There are plenty of overlooking angles with extensive depth of focus to examine and the city and enlighten one’s appreciation, plus there are fleeting montages of torture under interrogation are disturbing but can potently generates a sense of boldness to show audience the cruelty in reality. However the most indelible ones are the waiting-for-the-bombs-to-explode experiences, with camera panning over innocent white victims-to-be unwittingly relish their last moment of hedonism, utterly guarantee a surge of compassion out of shock value terms.

    Therefore, the film should also be extolled by its unbiased perspective in telling its stories from both parts, dispassionately channels viewers to witness the vindictive constitution lying underneath common humanity and the aimless and reproachable tit-for-tat acts ensuring. There are radical debates as regards the essence of revolution, a much more penetrating motto is revolution doesn’t mean war and terrorism is not a means to win a revolution, which should be indoctrinated all over the world, especially to those tinderboxes where religious and political threats are pervading rampantly at present.

    Showing no partiality to either sides is not an easy move since the production was backed and green-lit by one of the government, thus the film is a genuine gem in retaining the integrity and fabricating a gripping panorama of a chain of bloodshed and baring its true color under the stark daylight.
    Full Review »
  2. Jul 9, 2012
    Handles suspense better than most modern thrillers, the scenes with the female bombers are absolutely brilliantly done. It's agitprop... butHandles suspense better than most modern thrillers, the scenes with the female bombers are absolutely brilliantly done. It's agitprop... but what isn't, and it handles it well. None of the characters are over sympathetic, and the politics is all abot the confrontation not about the issues. I think the only perspective missing is the french back in Europe... why are the soldiers there? A very good film. Full Review »
  3. Feb 18, 2011
    Powerful, gut wrenching, moving and biographical film. This film shows all aspects of an insurgency against a superior military force withinPowerful, gut wrenching, moving and biographical film. This film shows all aspects of an insurgency against a superior military force within an urban setting. Extremely relevant considering the Iraq War. The scenes involving the killing of innocents on both sides is simply gut wrenching. You see the true face of war. The film also shows involves crimes by both sides, French and Algerian, making no distinction between the two. The scene of the terrorist bombing of the cafe and its aftermath leaves the viewer no doubt that Pontecorvo views the deaths of innocents to be the same no matter what the nationality. The leadership of the insurgency is shown as well as the French paratrooper commander. This film is a must for those who want to truly understand guerrilla warfare in an urban setting and the tragedy of it all. The torture scenes are especially moving and will bring the viewer to tears. Best foreign film of all time. Full Review »