8 February 2021 | lee_eisenberg
when the law becomes unjust, breaking it becomes a moral imperative
France invaded Algeria in 1830, launching a scorched-earth policy. For over 100 years, Algeria was France's prize colony in North Africa, with French forces brutalizing the Algerians in every way imaginable. So it was inevitable that the Algerians would eventually rise up against the French. Rachid Bouchareb's "Hors la loi" ("Outside the Law" in English) looks at three brothers who participate in Algeria's war for independence, and the France's draconian policies in trying to suppress it (I've read about how the French army tortured Algerian prisoners during the war). While France may have generally been a democracy, the Algerians living there experienced a police state. The conditions under which the French forced them to live might as well have been the townships in apartheid South Africa.
Obviously I can't vouch for the accuracy of everything depicted in the movie. What I can say is that it shows the desperation of the Algerians amid the sheer level of violence inflicted on them by the French. The opening scene reminded me of what happened to the family in John Sayles's "Secret of Roan Inish".
I don't know how much the Algerians in France get considered "truly French". My guess is not much. When I spent a week with a family in France, they took me to a party and one of the guests was from Algeria. Most recently, Emmanuel Macron refused to apologize to Algeria for France's treatment of the country. Full reconciliation probably won't come any time soon.