14 octobre 2006

Goodbye Pontecorvo

The great Gillo Pontecorvo died Thursday night in Rome.

Pontecorvo is best known for the revolutionary vérité of his masterwork: Battle of Algiers.


The Peter Matthews essay "Bombs and Boomerangs" is available on the Criterion Collection website.

Here's an interview that Pontecorvo gave in 2004 to the World Socialist Web Site.

Here's a great piece by Amy Taubin on his follow up to Battle of Algiers, the Marlon Brando-starring anti-colonialist epic Burn!

What really thrills about Battle of Algiers after all of these years is not that you feel in the midst of events; that's been done too much since to feel freshly radical. Battle's amplified intensity comes from being in the midst of events. As people riot in the street, the world is changing and we are party to it. This is not the distanced "historical" perspective of a film about the past; this is Saadi Yacef's book (and life) surrounding us. It's not spectatorship but intimacy here; Pontecorvo's camera gives up showing in favor of participation. This goes for both sides of the fight - we're as intimate with the general giving a press conference as we are with the young woman cutting her hair to slip past security checkpoints. This is radical, because filmmakers mostly align themselves with the watchers. In that press conference, the reporters are adversaries, or decorations; they remind us that there is a France back home watching what we do and deciding between leaving Algeria, or accepting the consequences of our actions there. It's no wonder that Pontecorvo and the Pentagon agree that Battle of Algiers correlates strongly with our experience in Iraq.

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