TCM Commits Treasonous Acts
Battle of Algiers: a more apt movie given the Iraq and soon-to-be Iran situation is hard to imagine. Brave of TCM to screen a film that is actually pro-Islamic terrorist, ending with Algerian independence, but not before we see French soldiers torturing possible FLN collaborators, fellow travelers, people who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. And the glorious ending, with the women’s ululations calling to mind the apocalyptic quality that attracted William Burroughs to jajouka musicians. The mass movement of spontaneous determination (Badiou’s fidelity to the Event? Agemben’s coming of the “whatever” being?) as stirring as the revolutionary surge of energy that closes I Am Cuba.
Pontecorvo’s fluid camera, panning and moving throughout the crowded Algerian streets. The streaming light after the last of the FLN core group are blown to pieces, along with the building in which they are hiding. (At least the French army had the good graces to evacuate the building before flattening it, unlike some armies we could mention…) Colonel Mathieu (played with reptilian grace by Jean Martin) as ultimate colonial enforcer, down to his open-secret admission that, yes, we are torturing people to get information out of them. (There’s even a waterboarding scene!!) And the independence movement triumphs over the occupiers!!!!!!
Bizarrely enough, apparently the film was screened at the Pentagon in 2003, although what that aggregate of criminals thought has not been made public.* Even more bizarrely, Danny de Vito chose it as part of the guest interviewees that TCM is having this month. And, even, even more bizarrely, it was followed by David Lean’s sark-fest Kwai Me a River, or something to that effect.
I am still working on the follow-up to the Houellbecq post, the first of which needs some heavy editing. A lot of it was written in a white heat - hence the MS Works inspired word surrealism in places. (I really, really hate predicative text.) And more on Inland Empire should be coming up soon too. Oh God, that bloody whistling song from Big British Soldiers Don't Kwai is coming on, so I better go change the freakin’ channel!
* According to the Wikipedia entry, Richard Clarke and Michael Sheehan discuss Algiers’s depiction of terrorism in the Criterion DVD, which is almost worth paying the $100 which seems to be the going rate for Criterion DVDs.