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Screening TortureMedia Representations of State Terror and Political Domination$
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Fabiola Fernandez Salek

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153591

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153591.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 01 July 2022

Movies of Modern Torture as Convenient Truths

Movies of Modern Torture as Convenient Truths

(p.219) 10 Movies of Modern Torture as Convenient Truths
Screening Torture

Darius Rejali

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines how torture is often misrepresented in classic and contemporary film by focusing on Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers (1966), suggesting that directors and actors tend to choose the accepted iconography of torture that won’t challenge filmgoers’ preconceived notions. It first considers how convenient truths circulate, and how movies convey this thoughtlessness. It then analyzes two theses about torture: one is that torture works, the other is the belief that a single universal distributor (Evil Devices R Us) is the source of all modern tortures. Each thesis leans heavily on convenient truths, and often that is why people cite these theses thoughtlessly. The chapter argues that, in The Battle of Algiers, torture didn’t have the effectiveness in the “short run” that Pontecorvo gave it. It also contends that torture is the least efficient way of obtaining necessary information, and that using informants—as the French did in Algeria—is far more reliable.

Keywords:   torture, film, Gillo Pontecorvo, The Battle of Algiers, truth, informants, Algeria

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