The Battle of Algiers ★★★★★

The rarest gem of all: a work of political art in which form is as radical and revolutionary as the ideas in play, but feels neither academic, nor didactic. Pontecorvo's malleable construction of the film—image and sound dutifully take on the identity of the characters on screen, seamlessly oscillating between a guerrilla realism reflective of the revolutionary fervour of the Algerian resistance, or a chillingly methodical stillness reminiscent of the French army's disciplined brutality—is a stroke of genius. This is a detailed portrait of the specifics of the Algerian struggle for independence that somehow still feels urgent more than half a century later, strangely lyrical and harrowing in equal measure.