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Critic’s Choice: ‘The Battle of Algiers’ rages once more

A scene from the 1966 film "The Battle of Algiers."
(Rialto Pictures / Iconotheque-Bibliotheque du film [Paris])
Film Critic

The calendar may say that it’s been 50 years since “The Battle of Algiers” was released in this country, but to look at it today, both as a political document and an aesthetic experience, makes it clear that great cinematic art never really ages or loses its relevance.

Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo and written by Franco Solinas, “Battle” is about a specific three-year period in Algeria’s push for independence from France. But what it depicts is one of the key dynamics of our time, the struggle to get out from under what’s perceived to be the oppressive weight of an occupying power.

Yet nothing could be more unfair than to say that the importance of “Battle of Algiers” lies in its political stance. It was nominated for three Academy Awards, including director and original screenplay, and it pioneered neo-documentary techniques that have been imitated but not improved.

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“Battle of Algiers,” Laemmle Royal, West Los Angeles; Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena, Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino, April 18, 7 p.m. $10-13. www.laemmle.com

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kenneth.turan@latimes.com

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@KennethTuran


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