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La Battaglia di Algeri (The Battle of Algiers)

Young Europeans leaning against a shop window stop chattering and look.

Ali reaches the corner, crosses the street, passes by the bar.

There is a blond youth, about eighteen, who seems to be a student who stretches out his foot, and pushes a chair in front of him.

Ali stumbles and falls.

The youth attempts a laugh, and at the same time moves backward.

Ali is lying face downward, but suddenly turns his head toward the youth and stares at him. Then lifting himself by his arms, he turns to look back.

The police are now twenty yards away.

Ali gets to his feet. For a split second, he hesitates. He hurls himself against the youth, headfirst.

Using his head, Ali rams into the youth's face, striking him in the nose and splurting blood everywhere.

The youth is unable to shout. He opens his mouth in the attempt, but the only result is a gurgling sound and blood. His friends intervene.

Ali is surrounded. The police arrive. A mass of people jump on Ali, kicking him and striking him with their fists as long as they please.

Finally the police aid Ali and disperse the crowd.

Ali is now in handcuffs and being led away.

More people have arrived. They are yelling, shouting insults, and spitting on Ali.

Ali passes in their midst protected by the police. He pays no heed to the fist blows, the shouts, the spits, but seems neither to see nor hear, as if he were already resigned to having lost the battle this time, and were preparing to wait patiently for a better chance.

He is walking with an unfaltering step. His face is emotionless, oval, swarthy. His hair black and wavy, his forehead low and wide; his eyes large and slanted with eyelids somewhat lowered, his mouth firm and proud.


Omar Ali, known as "Ali la Pointe" born in Miliana, March 1, 1930. Education: illiterate. Occupation: Manual laborer, farm hand, boxer, presently unemployed. Former convictions: 1942 -- Oran Juvenile Court, one year of reformatory school for acts of vandalism. 1944 -- Two years of reformatory school for theft. 1949 -- Court of Algiers, eight months for compulsory prostitution and resisting arrest. Habitual offender.