Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Battle of Algiers

(Algerian, 1965)

Simply one of the most gut-wrenching, compulsively watchable movies ever made. It looks like a documentary, but no newsreel footage was used; instead Gillo Pontecorvo, the director, used newsreel cameras and non-actors. It tells the story of the Algerian revolution, from both the Arab and French sides. Both sides commit horrific atrocities. He shows all this fairly evenhandedly. You watch this, you recall that it was made in 1966, and you just shiver when you consider how much it is like Viet-Nam, like Israel and Palestine, and yes, like Iraq. Apparently this movie is standard viewing at the Pentagon, and you have to conclude that the generals there know something that George W. Bush does not: That though our army will never lose a battle, just as it never lost a battle in Southeast Asia, it is virtually impossible to win a war like this. And back then they didn’t even have suicide bombers. They will grind us down, my fellow citizens, and we will lose the will to sacrifice so many of our young people, and we will declare victory and go home, just like we did in Viet-Nam. Only who’s running Viet-Nam now, Georgie boy?