By Michael F. O'Riley
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Additional resources for Cinema in an Age of Terror: North Africa, Victimization, and Colonial History
To express political views usually anathema to the dominant media. For the First World mass media, terrorism means only freelance or infrastate violence . . 5 While it is easy to agree with Stam and Spence that cinematic identiﬁcation does take place through spectatorial positioning, such identiﬁcations as seen in reportage about the ﬁlm (particularly from the Pentagon) seem to take place as identiﬁcations with Algerians as enemies. Such a positioning propagates the “clash of civilizations,” 28 RESUSCITATI NG THE BATTLE OF ALGI ERS establishing an identiﬁcation directly related to the conﬂict in Iraq as Western world versus Arab, or Orient.
S. ofﬁcials, in identifying with the surveillance, torture, and victimization depicted in Pontecorvo’s ﬁlm, would have imagined the limited reach of Western democracy that the existence of Pontecorvo’s liberationist narrative ultimately underscores some forty years later. S. occupation of Iraq. 14 The Pentagon screening of Pontecorvo’s work demonstrates that given the new imperialist appropriation of postcolonial texts, it may very well prove to be more effective to see anticolonial works of resistance as indicative of the ways that the victimization highlighted in them engenders a struggle to assume the victim’s position rather than to see them as works of imperialist resistance with direct currency today.
While never characterizing the French, the ﬁlm exposes the oppressive logic of colonialism and consistently fosters our complicity with the Algerians. It is through Algerian eyes, for instance, that we witness a condemned Algerian’s walk to his execution. It is from within the casbah that we see and hear the French troops and helicopters. This time it is the colonized who are encircled and menaced and with whom we identify. (244) Of course Stam and Spence interpret the ﬁlm from a positioned perspective that shares the same political consciousness of decolonization 38 RESUSCITATI NG THE BATTLE OF ALGI ERS they identify in Pontecorvo’s ﬁlm.