The Algerian War on Screen

The new movie Outside the Law will premier at the French Film Festival. It was directed by Rachid Bouchareb, who was born in France but is of Algerian descent. His film is able to reach out to a modern audience, while bringing history to life through the eyes of three Algerian brothers who end up in France. It tells the story of the Algerian War to free the country from French control. Outside the Law does contain violent scenes, but brings home the cruelty and suffering of war, along with its consequences.

Bouchareb selected Jamel Debbouze to play the role of Said, Roschdy Zem takes on Messaoud and Sami Bouajila assumes the role of Abdelkader. The movie begins where the family is removed from their property that had been in their family for generations to make more space available for the French colonists. The story then moves to the year 1945, as French Armed Forces brutally slaughter non-violent marching protesters in Algeria. This then also allows the audience to catch up with the brothers: Messaoud is a former soldier, Abdalkader is a FLN activist for which he is arrested, and Said supports his brothers through his life as a cabaret owner working in the red light district and is not interested in politics. Outside the Law then follows the brothers on their journey as they try to support the freeing of their homeland from French rule. It sees Messaoud becoming more involved in support of the plight of the FLN and how the French try to destroy this underground movement.

Outside the Law is hard hitting and emotional. It looks at the historical moments within the war, while using the brothers to depict the fight and dangers all activists faced during this time. It is almost a film of untold stories, and highlights the intensity of the war and those who were caught up in the crossfire. The Algerian War becomes more real and reminds the audience of what distances Algerians were prepared to go to free their country. Having each brother take on a different personality and outlook on the war brings audiences closer to the tension and reality of the war.