Gillo Pontecorvo's film focuses on the guerrilla warfare tactics used by Algerians in the years 1954-1957. Struggling against colonial rule, the National Liberation Front (FLN) - based in the Casbah in Algiers - became increasingly violent in their endeavour to free Algeria in the War of Independence. The film begins and ends with the focus on Ali la Pointe, who is recruited by the FLN leadership.
The film was loosely based on the book Souvenirs de la Bataille d'Alger, by Saadi Yacef (who plays El-hadi Jafar in the movie). It was shot in black and white and in documentary style, although much of the action is highly dramatised. The film shows the subversive techniques used by the FLN: how bombs were transported and made, the command structure of the guerilla organisation, the role of women and the response of French paratroopers.
Nominated for three Oscars and winner of the UN Bafta Award, the film is a classic war movie and highly recommended.