The Algerian War in Film Fifty Years Later, 2004–2012 examines the cultural, political, and aesthetic significance of narrative films made during the fiftieth-anniversary period of the war, between 2004 and 2012. This period was a fruitful one, in which film became a central medium generating varied representations of the war, and Anne Donadey argues that the fiftieth-anniversary film production contributed to France’s move from a period of the return of the repressed to one of difficult anamnesis. Donadey provides a close analysis of twenty narrative films made during this period on both side of the Mediterranean, observing that while some films continue to center on the point of view of only one stake-holding group, a number of films open up new opportunities for multicultural French audiences to envision the war through the eyes of Algerian characters on-screen, and other films bring memories from various groups together in thoughtful synthesis that represent the complexity of the situation. Donadey takes this analysis a step further to analyze what types of gendered representations emerge in these films, given the important participation of Algerian women in the revolutionary war. Scholars of Francophone studies, film, women’s studies, and history will find this book particularly useful.
Anne Donadey is professor of French and women’s studies at San Diego State University.
Introduction: The Algeria Syndrome and Hiccups of Memory
Chapter 1: Un/Civil War Memories: L’Ennemi intime, Mon Colonel, Djinns, La Trahison, and Nuit noire 17 octobre 1961
Chapter 2: From Screen Memories to Intertwined Lives: Caché, Michou d’Auber, Le premier homme, Je vous ai compris, and Le Choix de Myriam
Chapter 3: From Nostalg(er)ic to Coalescing Memories: Un Balcon sur la mer, Ce que le jour doit à la nuit, La Baie d’Alger, and Cartouches gauloises
Chapter 4: Militant Memories: Mostefa Ben Boulaïd, Zabana!, Sartre: L’Age des passions, Avant l’oubli, Voyage à Alger, and Pour Djamila
Conclusion: Difficult Anamnesis
About the Author
A remarkably elegant multidisciplinary analysis of cinematic engagement with the Algerian War for independence (1954-62), Anne Donadey’s latest work is a significant contribution to both Francophone cinema studies and the study of the long-standing aftereffects of that violent historical moment. Based on a corpus of 30 narrative films (2004-2012), Donadey incisively examines cross-generational perspectives on understanding collective, if difficult, anamnesis 50 years on. By expertly weaving together close readings of historical approaches and meticulous filmic sequence analyses, Donadey’s nuanced study foregrounds the lingering effects of a partially repressed memory of a fraught war that has since haunted Algeria and France. Her writing stands out for its explicit signposting and extensive references, making it accessible to undergraduates and graduates alike. Anne Donadey’s capacious and critical engagement with postcolonial thought and the work of eminent historians deepens our understanding of the impact of different vectors of historical memory, and clearly establishes this book as a key reference for students and scholars of Franco-Algerian history, film and memory studies.
Asking where France and Algeria are today with respect to memories of the Algerian war of independence, Anne Donadey turns to narrative film. Arguing that film offers crucial perspectives on cross-cultural relations, she draws on the ‘Algerian Syndrome’—French society’s difficulty in coming to terms with its colonial past—to explore the fraught relationship between the two nations. A meticulous and compelling work that examines the cultural, political, and aesthetic significance of films made five decades after the war began, this study reveals the extent to which cinema grants new perspectives on a war and its aftermath. An excellent book!
If historical consciousness varies in its degree of symbolic elaborations, the author shrewdly illustrates how history exists as a negotiable resource that can be reworked by protean social worlds and cinematic art. This monograph will be of interest to critics of Francophone film, historians, and students and teachers of colonialism, war, and memory.