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Battle of Algiers Analysis Essay

The Battle of Algiers is a 1966 film that depicts the Algerian uprising against the French rule in the city of Algeria. The cause of the conflict in the film is the constant oppression felt by the Arab Algerians because of French colonialism. The injustice suffered by the native Arabs is shown in a number of ways: the living space difference between the Arabs and French, the difference in occupation, and the condescending attitudes the French have towards the Arabs.

The populations of Algeria (Arab and French), are separated into two locations. The French live in a modern city with stores, buildings, lights, and automobiles many things that people take for granted. While the Arabs live in poverty compressed in a dark Casbah; an old walled in citadel. The French seem to have a well-established middle class while the native Arabs of Algeria have to struggle to survive.

The difference in occupations by the natives and the French is also blatantly shown. The Arabs are mainly engaged in manual labor and only work with the French when they work under them – the servant of the police commissioner. On the other hand the French have a deep-rooted monopoly on all civil affairs. These differences show the injustice experienced by the native population but it is more apparent by the condescending and arrogant perception the French have toward the Arabs.

Throughout the film the French try to persuade the native population to quell their rebellion by showing how French occupation has given them “civilization and prosperity.” But this is not true because of the difference in living conditions between the two races of people. Also throughout the film the French refer to the native Algerians as “dirty Arabs,” and “rats.” The dehumanization of the Arabs is also shown when Lieutenant-Colonel Mathieu compares the Arabs to “tapeworms.” It is ironic that the French officer refers to the Arabs as parasites when it is truly the French who colonized the country and exploits its resources. Lieutenant Mathieu also shows his disrespect for the Arabs when he names his counter measures to the Arabs rebellion “operation champagne.” (Alcohol is forbidden to Muslims)

The film The Battle of Algiers shows the constant injustice to the native population by the foreign imperialists. The movie shows the difference in location, occupation, and respect that both people have for each other. The film also shows the constant racism of the French toward the native population and depicts the various reasons as to why the Arabs rebelled.

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