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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'The Battle of Algiers" or "Maarakat madinat al Jazaer')

directed by Gillo Pontecorvo
Algeria / Italy 1965

One of the most influential films in the history of political cinema, Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers focuses on the harrowing events of 1957, a key year in Algeria’s struggle for independence from France. Shot in the streets of Algiers in documentary style, the film vividly recreates the tumultuous Algerian uprising against the occupying French in the 1950s. As violence escalates on both sides, the French torture prisoners for information and the Algerians resort to terrorism in their quest for independence. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range; women plant bombs in cafés. The French win the battle, but ultimately lose the war as the Algerian people demonstrate that they will no longer be suppressed.

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Theatrical Release: March 13th, 1967 - Sweden

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DVD Review: Criterion Collection (2 disc) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Box Cover

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CRITERION 3 disc DVD BOXSET FROM 2004 - CLICK TO ENLARGE

       

Distribution Criterion Collection Pine # 249 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 2:01:39.583
Video

Disc One - the Feature

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,763,412,375 bytes

Feature: 29,941,014,528 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 28.99 Mbps

Disc Two - Supplements

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,684,006,421 bytes

Main Extra Feature: 17,544,376,320 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 32.50 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate: Disc One

Bitrate: Disc Two

Audio LPCM Audio French 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Disc One - the Feature

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,763,412,375 bytes

Feature: 29,941,014,528 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 28.99 Mbps

Edition Details:

DISC 1:
• The Dictatorship of Truth: a 37-minute documentary narrated by Edward Said about the relationship between Pontecorvo’s politics and filmmaking style (37:32 in 1080i)

• Marxist Poetry -The Making of The Battle of Algiers: an exclusive new documentary created for this release guided by Pontecorvo biographer Irene Bignardi and featuring interviews with the director himself, cinematographer Marcello Gatti, composer Ennio Morricone, editor Mario Morra, actors Jean Martin and Saadi Yacef, and film critic Tullio Kezich (51:23 in 1080i)

• Five Directors: a discussion about the The Battle of Algiers influence, style, and importance featuring, Spike Lee, Mira Nair, Julian Schnabel, Steven Soderbergh, and Oliver Stone (17:18 in 1080i)

• Click-thru Production Gallery
• Theatrical (4:03 in 1080P) and re-release trailer (2:24 in 1080P)

DISC 2: THE FILM AND HISTORY
• Remembering History: a new documentary featuring interviews with historians Alistair Horne, Hugh Roberts and Benjamin Stora, former FLN members Zohra Drif-Bitat, Mohammed Harbi and Saadi Yacef, and writer and torture victim, Henri Alleg (The Question) (1:08:15 in 1080i)
• “Etats d’Armes”—a 30-minute excerpt from Patrick Rotman’s 3-part documentary, L’Ennemi Intime, which focuses on the horror of the French-Algerian War. It features interviews with various members of the French military during the French-Algerian War, including General Jacques Massu, General Roger Trinquier, General Paul Aussaresses, and others (28:26 in 1080i)
• The Battle of Algiers: A case Study - How to Win the Battle But Lose the War of Ideas: a conversation about the contemporary relevance of The Battle of Algiers between former National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism and author of Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, Richard A. Clarke, former State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Michael A. Sheehan, and Chief of Investigative Projects for ABC News, Christopher E. Isham (24:40 in 1080i)
Gillo Pontecorvo's Return to Algiers (1992, 55 minutes): three decades following its emergence as a nation, director Gillo Pontecorvo and his son return to Algeria to talk with its people about independence (58:10 in 1080i)
• A liner booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Peter Matthews, a reprinted interview with writer Franco Solinas, brief biographies on the key figures in the French-Algerian War, and more

Blu-ray Release Date: October 12th, 2004
Custom
Blu-ray packaging
Chapters: 35

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - July 11': Firstly, I recently noticed that the previous submitted DVD captures were obtained at an incompatible setting ('vivid') and hence, are not valid - especially for comparison to the Blu-ray. We have removed them and have only captures derived from the 1080P transfer. We may compare to the DVD - obtaining new SD captures - at some point in the future.

Criterion's high-definition digital transfer can tend to more-readily identify some of the minor, frame-specific damage but intense contrast levels and consistent grain and at premium levels and are the notable hallmark of this astounding package. The transfer was supervised by director of photography Marcello Gatti and it has definite, and significant, advantages over SD. Noise in the 1080P is inconsequential and the visuals are far more film-like appearing less like waxy video. The texture here is even, authentically rough and much appreciated. This looks impressively awesome in-motion. I felt like I was at a theatrical retrospective. Marvelous.

Criterion don't fiddle with false bumps and again stick with the original mono with a linear PCM Audio track at 1152 kbps. It is clean and clear, front-centric but The Battle of Algiers aggressive gunfire etc, depth can be jolting despite the mono rendering. The Blu-ray offers optional English subtitles and the disc is, like all Criterion BDs, (both discs) are region 'A'-locked.

Criterion have done a detailed job in describing the package supplements (duplicate of their 3-disc DVD) - far better than I could do - so I will, essentially, just repeat what they have said. On disc one - along with the feature - we get the 37-minute documentary The Dictatorship of Truth narrated by Edward Said about the relationship between Pontecorvo’s politics and filmmaking style. Like all video extras it is in 1080i (unless otherwise noted). Also sharing the first disc is Marxist Poetry -The Making of The Battle of Algiers: an exclusive 51-minute documentary created for Criterion's digital releases - guided by Pontecorvo biographer Irene Bignardi and featuring interviews with the director himself, cinematographer Marcello Gatti, composer Ennio Morricone, editor Mario Morra, actors Jean Martin and Saadi Yacef, and film critic Tullio Kezich. Also the Five Directors: a discussion about the The Battle of Algiers influence, style, and importance featuring, Spike Lee, Mira Nair, Julian Schnabel, Steven Soderbergh, and Oliver Stone running 17-minutes in length. You may access the click-thru Production Gallery with behind-the-scenes stills etc. and two theatrical (4:03 in 1080P) and re-release trailer (2:24 in 1080P) also on the first disc. On disc 2 - another dual-layered Blu-ray we find the remaining extras from the extensive DVD package. These include Remembering History: the documentary featuring interviews with historians Alistair Horne, Hugh Roberts and Benjamin Stora, former FLN members Zohra Drif-Bitat, Mohammed Harbi and Saadi Yacef, and writer and torture victim, Henri Alleg (The Question) lasting 1 hour 8-minutes. “Etats d’Armes” is a 28.5-minute excerpt from Patrick Rotman’s 3-part documentary, L’Ennemi Intime, which focuses on the horror of the French-Algerian War. It features interviews with various members of the French military during the French-Algerian War, including General Jacques Massu, General Roger Trinquier, General Paul Aussaresses, and others. The Battle of Algiers: A Case Study - How to Win the Battle But Lose the War of Ideas: a conversation about the contemporary relevance of The Battle of Algiers between former National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism and author of Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, Richard A. Clarke, former State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Michael A. Sheehan, and Chief of Investigative Projects for ABC News, Christopher E. Isham. This runs for 25-minutes. Gillo Pontecorvo's Return to Algiers (1992, 58 minutes): three decades following its emergence as a nation, director Gillo Pontecorvo and his son return to Algeria to talk with its people about independence and lastly a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Peter Matthews, a reprinted interview with writer Franco Solinas, brief biographies on the key figures in the French-Algerian War, plus photos etc. is included in the BD package.

I've always considered this one of Criterion's greatest triumphs bringing such a masterpiece to digital with such an outstanding supplement package. The Blu-ray only exemplifies this. The extras are to be visited over days and only add further appreciation to the historical context of The Battle of Algiers. This belongs in EVERY cinephile's Blu-ray library. out of

Gary W. Tooze




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Gary Tooze