Les Harkis with Theo Cholby, Mohamed El Amin

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Harkis Philippe Faucon with Theo Cholby, Mohamed El-Amin Muffoc, Pierre Lottin

Harkisy – Abstract

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the war in Algeria continued. Salah, Kaddour and other destitute young Algerians join the French army as harkis. They are led by Lieutenant Pascal. The results of the conflict speak of the rapid independence of Algeria. The fate of the harkis looks very uncertain. Pascal goes against his hierarchy to get all the men in his unit repatriated to France.

The Harkis – Movie Review

I am all the more sensitive to this film because I experienced these events before I left Algeria in 1959, and we were talking then about “police intervention” and not about “war” with the deployment of the French army in Algeria.

Another more vivid and deceptive event, when a certain Emmanuel Macron, then a simple candidate in the presidential elections posed in Algeria in February 2017 with his party En Marche, the first milestone in the thorny project of recognition of memory, defining colonization in Algeria as “a crime against humanity“.

Small historical references for those who do not know. Until 1830, Algeria (the country) did not exist as such, as it was an Ottoman province, and it was France that entered it after the country became a French department, inventing its name : Algeria.

Les Harkis: a very didactic and chronological film by Philippe Faucon

After these small personal and historical details, Philippe Faucon’s very didactic and chronological film invites us to see or return to a dark page of our history during the French colonization of certain territories.

Originally, these kharks were simple fellahs (peasants) who, due to the war in Algeria, no longer had enough to support their families and enlisted with the French army to fight against their Muslim brothers.

Having dealt with the frustration of the French lieutenant in the film “Betrayal”, the director this time looks at this “nameless war” and the feeling of abandonment of these harks.

Harki: A sobering and wonderful request

In this sobering and beautiful plea, Faucon looks at the damned of this war, which resulted in thousands of deaths on both sides: the French partisans and the FLN partisans.

Thanks to an exquisite style that aims at the essential, Philippe Faucon manages to define, without imposing a line, the dilemmas of the time and reduce his dialogues to the essential. The human aspect remains important in his film, even if we would like to talk a little more about the massacre at the time of independence, not forgetting the murders committed against the French of Algeria (nicknamed the Blackfeet) and the arrival of these kharks in mainland France, which France grazed as sheep, in temporary barracks created in the camps.

Les Harkis: an art film of extraordinary sensitivity

Here is a political film that eschews any Manichaeism, while being fair, powerful and extremely sensitive, making it as instructive as it is poignant in its subject matter.

Philippe Faucon’s realization, broad and realistic in its staging, with gorgeous and bare scenery, the right actors in the roles, gives this human drama excruciating visual moments of summary execution that evoke deep emotions in us, the audience.

“Les Garkis” is an important, complex, painful and very human historical film.


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