The Polemic of Truth 24 Frames per Second
The Images of the Algerian War in The Little Soldier by Jean-Luc Godard
The Algerian War (1954–1962) was long considered a blind spot in contemporary French history. It had this status even though it was one of the key events for contemporary France. It meant the end of the French colonial empire. When General Charles de Gaulle, the legendary leader of the French Resistance Movement, became the president, the Algerian War also meant the end of the French Fourth Republic and the foundation of the current Fifth Republic. This article tries to present the motivation behind the collective oblivion of this key event in French history by analysing its historical context. It also aims at drawing an ideological portrait of France at the time, which still suffered from the unsolved traumas of the Second World War. This also affected the presence and the representation of the Algerian War in public discourse. The article analyses this with a brief presentation of the French films that deal with the Algerian War. The film images are more precisely analysed in the case of The Little Soldier (Le petit soldat, 1960/1963), Jean- Luc Godard’s second feature film. Because of the strained political atmosphere and a clear critique of the ideological manipulations of the French authorities, the film was censored. Through the analysis of the film’s images, the article aims to show the importance of The Little Soldier, not only in the context of the Algerian War, but also in view of its artistic subversive powers.
The integral version of this article can be found in the printed KINO!