Upon watching Gillo Pontevcorvo's The Battle of Algiers, it becomes clear where the film's sympathy lies: with Ali la Pointe and the FLN, with whom the story begins and ends. Yet the film still manages to portray the Algerian War for Independence fairly even-handedly, depicting the brutalities committed by both sides of the conflict. In this way the film complicates any partisan attempts to represent it as univocal; however, this hasn't stopped political groups from reading the film's politics as aligning with their own.
The trailer for the 2004 U.S. theatrical re-release also picks up on the film's politics, informing the viewer that "[t]he most explosive film of the 1960s is now the most important film of 2004." The opening of the trailer offers a clue as to how Pontecorvo's film resonates almost 40 years after its release, as scenes of Algerian women dressed in western-style clothing and carrying bombs are set side-by-side with Col. Mathieu's reports of a small minority ruling through terror. Shots of cafes exploding reveal the reasons why these women, and their fellow insurgents, must be found and destroyed. Due to the trailer's focus on the French army paratroopers, files and reports on revolutionaries, and the bombings committed by the FLN--the bombing of the Casbah and the use of torture by the French are given comparatively less representation in the trailer--when the intertitle revealing the Pentagon's 2003 screening of the film appears it perhaps comes as no surprise.
Also released in 2004, The Criterion Collection's impressive special edition three-disc set includes the Rialto re-release trailer as one of many bonus features. I am interested in the way in which the DVD boxed set frames The Battle of Algiers and archives the history of its reception, influence, and political applications. Like the trailer which prefigured its release, the Criterion Collection boxed set appears to focus on the American post-9/11, post-Invasion of Iraq context when promoting the film's importance in and for 2004. This begs the question of how other films, particularly foreign films, are packaged and framed through DVD paratexts and the political climate contemporary to their [re-]release. In what ways do the bonus features on DVDs reflect not only the politics of the countries in which they are released, but also the politics of DVD production and packaging?