The film was released when the world was divided - through the Warsaw Pact (creating the communist East Europe) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (creating a capitalist world on the West). The two political ideologies were also in relentless battle in Asia, Africa and Latin America as the Western World refused clung on to their colonies. The U.S. was also preparing for war against Vietnam. The backdrop is quite evident in the film. It is a sharp and realistic portrayal of the anti-colonial struggle by impressively confirming the right of the masses in every exploited country that opposed imperialism.
During the 1950s and 1960s, a great part of the world got liberated from colonial occupation; the British Empire waned from maps in many areas. Yet, their control remained indirectly. For example, the French continued their economic power in West Africa and parts of Arabia. Economic intervention of the US in Cuba and direct military involvement of the British and French in Egypt led to armed and cultural confrontation against both the neo-colonial powers in these countries. This revolutionary fight was mirrored in The Battle of Algiers. In the 1950s, there were many films with a willful political theme vouching for liberation from colonialism. In the 1960s, there was a flood of this genre of cinema in the three continents where young filmmakers were committed to their political causes in both concept and practice. By the 1980s, the notion of Third Cinema was decisively established, both in the countries subjugated by neo-colonialism and in intellectual circles. In the Edinburgh conference in 1986, filmmakers, activists, critics and academics debated over a number of issues in Third Cinema. In the 1990s however, such films have made a setback with the end of the Soviet Union and the idea of a Second World, a socialist camp evidently flagging anti-colonial forces, a number of movements making compromises with the imperialists. In South Africa, albeit with the black majority rule, the influence of multinationals and white colonizers of the key economic resources has not changed (Third World Third Cinema, dc5b.com). Yet, Third Cinema is not dead. Further, early films can inspire those who are interested in a cinema that directly opposes the system of colonialism and neo-colonialism. Battle of Algiers is surely, one of them.
The film begins with a boom shot over Algiers with a 1954 message to the people of Algeria:
Our revolt is against colonialism.
Our goal: restore independence to the Algerian state within the framework of Islamic principles with respect for the basic freedoms, regardless of race or religion (cited from oldschoolreviews.com)
It then moves over to a street scene where uneducated young hoodlum Ali La Pointe (Brahim Haggiag) tricks locals with a three-card Monte swindle before getting arrested. A believer in Algerian liberation, the ex-boxer is recruited to join the organization (F.L.N. the Algerian Liberation Front) after passing their security checks, showing how the leadership is shaped. By portraying violence created by both sides - the French colonial authorities and the Liberation leaders - Pontecorvo maintains the cinematic tension with dourly excruciating political insight. Pontecorvo balances cinematic tension with grimly acute political insight. He doesn't shy away from showing the civilian cost of the F.L.N's bombings, as Colonel Mathieu