The first screening in the Nolan's Inspiration season — four films that influenced Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk.
Gillo Pontecorvo's stirring anatomy of an urban uprising — the violent nationalist revolt in Algiers in 1956 and 1957 — feels strikingly relevant today, showing the real consequences of defying popular will with institutional aggression and military force.
The tone is mournful but the approach journalistic, and Pontecorvo refuses to caricature the French or glamorise the Algerians: instead he sketches the way a guerilla movement is organised and the way a colonial force sets about decimating it.
There's a minimum of verbal rhetoric: the urgent images and Ennio Morricone's thunderous score spell out the underlying political sympathies. Dazzling and unforgettable.