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The Movie That Got It Right

“Die Hard”? “Speed”? “Blown Away”? Scholars aren’t impressed with recent depictions of terrorism in Hollywood movies.

But the Rand Corp.'s Bruce Hoffman says that an award-winning 1965 movie, “The Battle of Algiers,” directed by Gillo Pontecorvo, is “the best film there is” on the subject.

The documentary-style dra-ma depicts the Algerian revolt against the French during the 1950s. “The main message of the film is that without intelligence and information, you can’t effectively combat terrorism,” Hoffman says. The film, which opens with a torture scene, “shows the lengths to which the French army and paratroops went in 1957--what you may have to do to get intelligence when innocent people are being killed and you’re losing.”

According to Hoffman, the film has been used as a training tool by militants from the Irish Republican Army, Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers and the Black Panthers.

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On the other side, Hoffman used to show it to his university students, saying: “If you want to understand how to fight terrorism, watch this film.”


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