Colonization and the war in Algeria without taboos



It was the Algerian war

Monday March 14 and Tuesday March 15, at 9:10 p.m. on France 2

Even if, sometimes, we find the same archive images and the same witnesses of the Algerian war – such as Bachir Hadjadj, a former member of the National Liberation Army, or Slimane Zeghidour, then a young Kabyle who grew up in one of the regrouping camps for villagers created by the colonial power – the documentary series in five episodes It was the Algerian war, carried out by Georges-Marc Benamou, in connection with the historian Benjamin Stora, does not overlap with that ofAt war(s) for Algeria, produced under the leadership of historian Raphaëlle Branche, broadcast on Arte two weeks earlier. On the contrary, they complement each other intelligently.

The first episode is devoted to 124 years of colonization, a long prelude to war, which is too often overlooked: the violence of conquest, Napoleon III’s dream of an Arab kingdom before the IIIand Republic does not make Algeria a colony, the renunciations of equality, Algerian independence which will end in a terrible fratricidal war, the massacres of Sétif and Guelma in 1945, when famine decimated entire families. However, until the threshold of an atrocious war of eight long years, carelessness will persist among the Europeans of Algeria. “We lived like happy lizards in the sun”, one of them remembers.

The voice-over of actor Benoît Magimel constitutes the continuous framework of the story, throughout the five episodes. Sensitive, didactic, without taboos. And the spotlight is given to French politics, to its procrastination, oscillating between the desire for reform and fierce repression, to the balance of power between the French authorities and the ultras of French Algeria. The free words, like a flattening of the actions of each camp, once again give this salutary feeling that after sixty years history can, at last, be looked at in its entirety and all its complexity.

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