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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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Doing Torture in Film

Doing Torture in Film

Confronting Ambiguity and Ambivalence

(p.257) 12 Doing Torture in Film
Screening Torture

Marnia Lazreg

Columbia University Press

This chapter analyzes the 1965 feature film The Battle of Algiers, which dramatized an episode in the Algerian War during which torture was systematically used in the dismantling of an urban guerilla network operating out of the Casbah, the old city. More specifically, it explores the uncertainties and silences surrounding the filmic treatment of torture, as well as its garbled or ambiguous meanings as conveyed in The Battle of Algiers and the documentaries Standard Operating Procedure and Taxi to the Dark Side. It argues that The Battle of Algiers failed to capture the centrality of torture in the French counterinsurgency effort in Algeria, while Standard Operating Procedure minimizes the effects of torture on the Abu Ghraib detainees and does not represent the victims’ suffering or experience. Taxi to the Dark Side discloses the extent of America’s torture program, elucidates the decisions that made torture a key element in the country’s counterinsurgency program in Iraq and Afghanistan, and gives the torture victims a voice.

Keywords:   film, The Battle of Algiers, Algerian War, torture, Standard Operating Procedure, Taxi to the Dark Side, counterinsurgency, Algeria, Abu Ghraib, victims

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