A particularly crucial event that was omitted in the two year jump was the Philippeville massacre. The inclusion of this event in the film would have been crucial because it represents the point when where the FLN policy started targeting civilians to start a full-scale revolution. On August 20 1955, some 80 FLN guerillas entered the villages of Constantine and Philipeville slaughtering pieds-noirs civilians, men, women, and children. An estimated number of 71 pied-noirs were killed. The French retaliated unproportionally, killing 1273 guerrillas.
With the Philippeville massacre being omitted, the next scene of violence is that of two French generals bombarding an Arab quarter after the curfew of the Algerians. Following this scene are 3 shots of dead children, with sad music accompanying. This certainly instigates a feeling of empathy in the viewer. According to the film’s chronology, the bombing is a response to the chaotic guerrilla attacks being carried by Algerian civilians. Historically however, it was a response to the massacre. As a response to the bombing, the FLN employed women to plant bombs in pied-noirs facilities; a bar, a cafe, and an Airfrance airport. This is historically correspondent, as on the 26th of January 1957, two charges did explode within few minutes of each other, one in bar L’Otomatic and the other in café Le Coq Hardi1(Appendix 2). The movie lacks however the portrayal of violence against the Algerian women, especially considering they were once “the heart of the combat”2. Women were brutally tortured, assaulted, and raped. Louisette Ighilahriz testified about being raped, and tortured by French generals Marcel Bigeard and Jacques Massu (Appendix 1). Jacque Massu has long before acknowledged the use of torture, and gives credibility to Louisette’s claims.
As a response to the bombing of pied-noirs by the FLN, the French send in military paratrooper Colonel Mathieu, here appear the graphic scenes of French torture. In the movie, the methods shown include blowtorching the suspect’s naked torso, waterboarding, and clipping electrodes to the earlobes before hand-cranking the voltage. Henri Alleg, in his book La Question3, similarly describes the methods of torture he endured by French paratroopers, claiming he notably sustained water torture, torture by electricity, and was threatened by summary execution. Contributing to the Henri’s truthfulness, under Paul Aussaresses’s testimony, he claims “I myself have carried out summary executions”.
1 Benjamin, S. (2004) p. 49
2 Ibid., p. 67
3 La Question was published in 1958. It is famous for precisely describing the methods of torture used by French paratroopers during the Algerian War from the point of view of a victim, Henri. La Question was censored in France after selling 60,000 copies in two weeks.