The film depicts an uprising in the city of Algiers, in French-controlled Algeria, in the 1950s. The film is not a documentary, but it does a fair job of reenacting the events that took place and shaped the anti-colonial struggle in North Africa. The film is two hours long, so plan ahead to find a time to watch it and complete the discussion forum assignment until the due dates (see below). It may be useful to take notes while watching the film.
To successfully complete the assignment, students need to:
1) Open a discussion thread responding to at least two of the guiding questions suggested below. Due on April 18, by the end of the day.
1- Did you like the film? What caught your attention the most? Why? Feel free to really open your thoughts about the film.
2- What made Ali Lapointe turn from a petty thief and street troublemaker into an armed political activist? What does Lapointe’s transformation tell us about the lives of colonial subjects and colonial society in the 1950s?
3- How does the film depict daily life interaction between Algerian and French people in Algiers? What do the checkpoint scenes show about colonial society?
4- Who were the Algerian rebels targeting at the beginning of the film? And later? What made their strategy change?
5- What is the role of terrorism and torture in the events depicted in the film? Who committed terrorist acts and conducted torture sessions? Why?
6- How did Colonel Mathieu, leader of the French paratrooper division sent to control Algiers, plan to defeat the uprising? Did he evaluate correctly the extent to which Algerians wanted to change their condition? Why? In What sense did Mathieu and the French win the battle but lose the war?
7- The interviews of Colonel Mathieu to the press reveal a lot about the history of new imperialism and the post World War Two process of decolonization. What is the role of the press in the events depicted in the film? What does Mathieu expect from the press? What do the interviews imply about the relationship of French society and government with Algeria and other colonies, such as Indochina, which the French had lost just before the events depicted in the film?
8- In moral terms, how would you evaluate the actions of each side of the Battle of Algiers? Explain your thoughts.