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14 April 2024

Historical movie highlights darker side of French colonial rule

By VM Sathish

The Algerian-French film ‘Twilight of Shadows’, which took almost seven years in the making, faces an uncertain future. The makers aren’t sure if the historical movie about Algerian war of independence will be shown in France.

 The 110-minutes film, which was shown for the first time in the Middle East during the Dubai International Film Festival, is directed by octogenarian Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina. It is based partly on his own experience as a photographer during the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962) against French colonial rule of Algeria.

“My father is 85 years old and could not attend the film fest here. He was a member of the independence movement and worked as a photographer. The script was written based on historical facts and the movie is awaiting permission from French authorities,” said Tarek Lakhdar-Hamina, son of Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina, who is known for his 1975 film ‘Chronicles of the Years of Embers’ that offered a personal vision of the Algerian revolution. He worked in the French army and later joined the freedom movement and went abroad to study photography and film making.

The story revolves around three main characters - two French soldiers and another soldier who opposes torture by the French colonial army to defeat the revolution.

“Given the current situation in France and other European countries, we are not yet sure if the movie will get permission from the Governments there,” says Tarek Lakhdar-Hamina.

 The film - Algeria’s official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film for the 2016 Academy Awards - also shows the darker side of the war, including torture methods and other inhuman strategies like poisoning wells in the desert.

“It is a well-made political movie, with the theme of colonial intrusions. The three main characters - Samir Boitard (rebel leader Khaled), Nicolas Bridget ( Lambert) and Laurent Henequen (Commandant Saintenac)  - have done a good job. I liked the movie and wish to watch it again,” said Shamsir Shan, who watched the movie at Diff.

There are several touching scenes in the movie. One where the soldiers protect a young Algerian girl from rape during a counter terrorism operation by her parents is heart-breaking.