Okay, so I think we all have something we can now say about ill-advised wars. France, though, learned its lesson 50 years ago. A lot of lives (some 500,000, both soldier and civilian) were lost in trying keep Algiers from declaring its independence, but the battle, which ran from 1954 to 1962, has received sparse treatment on film. Director Florent-Emilio Sari and screenwriter Patrick Rotman -- who also wrote a book and a documentary series on the subject -- have sought to remedy the situation with Intimate Enemies.
Siri definitely has a knack for playing the audience. He makes the most of his Moroccan locations, finding an eerie beauty in the barren landscape, and can pull off a tense sequence in which the main protagonist, the idealistic Lt. Terrien (Benoit Magimel), agonizes over whether to open fire on some distantly spied natives who may or may not be the enemy in disguise. When the violence comes -- scenes of prisoners being tortured or the nightmarish vision of napalm being deployed on the battlefield -- it's graphic and unsparing, yet not so much sensationalistic as an unflinching attempt to get the viewer closer to a world where morality has gone seriously off the rails.
Siri gave me some interesting insights into how to effectively build and release audience tensions, and some good reasons why, after 50 years, this war still needs to be confronted. Click on the player below to hear the interview.
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