By the end of World War I, the Arab rebellion against foreign domination had become widespread, and this fact was reflected in the film depictions of the region, though with an inherent Western bias that made use of Arab stereotypes to promote the view that the people of the West were a cultural force for civilization while the Arab was a more primitive throwback to an earlier era:
Thus the colonial film was born and became popular in the 1920s and 1930s. This kind of film glorified the skills of the colonizers. . . and what were known as "peacekeeping" operations. . . Its heroes were the legionnaires and soldiers of the colonial armies, and the villains are the "recalcitrant" Arabs (Fahdel 26).
The "good" Arabs are those who choose to join the colonial forces and fight against their rebellious countrymen. Arab revolts were depicted as embarrassing incidents. The revolt in Algeria would be addressed in a way that showed the Arab point of view by only one Western filmmaker, the Italian Gillo Pontecorvo, and his film, The Battle of Algiers, was long banned in France precisely because it showed the view of the other side in the conflict.
Islam is the element that has linked the different periods of Algerian history since the conversion of the region in the eighth century and before the advent of political nationalism could compensate for the lack of a clear-cut national identity. Virtually all Algerians profess the religion of Islam, which has continued to provide Algerian society through the centuries with its central social and cultural identity and the people with their basic ethical orientation. Algeria was long dominated by foreign rulers, and the fight for freedom from this rule began in 1954 with an organized revolt to obtain equal political rights for Algerian subjects. This was a battle under the direction of the National Liberation Front (FLN), which would become the dominant force in Algerian society once vict...