1972, 97 minutes , French with English subs
Vautier’s feature is set in southern Algeria, more specifically the aurès massif, in April 1961. Following an ambush, a French battalion of Breton soldiers confronts a group from the Algerian national liberation army. The film investigates the different complexities of war: from the performance of duty, to the interaction with the enemy, and finally what it means to be human.
Vautier’s statement: whilst filming with the Algerians, I realized that the French army was in the same situation as the German one against the French resistance. I had to offer my account. Since 1956 I had wanted to make a film about the conscript Noël Favrelière who was ordered to guard an Algerian prisoner the night before his execution, but instead, he escaped with the prisoner. However, I realized that my film could not focus on this fact, which was an exception during the war in Algeria. So I interviewed around 500 ex-conscripts and from the 680 hours of recording I interwove some situations based on tallying accounts. Those accounts became the screenplay.