Skip to main content

RAMPARTS OF CLAY

France / Algeria, 1969 (MIFF 1971, Programme 31)

Director: Jean-Louis Bertuccelli

An excerpt from Franz Fanon's "Wretched of the Earth"' introduces the French-Algerian production Ramparts of Clay, a study of a period of change between fading traditions and economic and social development. In a mountain village in the south of Tunisia shortly after independence, men go on strike when an outside contractor reduces their wages.

Their work consists of breaking up stones for a city firm. The men sit down on the rocks and refuse to move. Soldiers are called in, who form a ring around the strikers, preventing them from joining their families only a few hundred yards away. Food is denied them, then sleep, then peace.

The strike, a recreation of an actual incident, is juxtaposed with the rebellion of Rina, a young girl responding to the call of a new age and to the world beyond the confines of her remote mountain village.

Working with only two professional actors, director Jean-Louis Bertuccelli persuaded the actual inhabitants of a village who had never seen a motion-picture camera before, to re-enact their lives. They do it without a trace of self-consciousness or restraint. Sparse use of dialogue is interspersed with folk chants to maintain a balance between the documentary and the dramatic elements of the story. Rather than polemicise, the film attempts to probe meaning and ask questions, leaving answers for history and the audience to decide.

... Ramparts of Clay is one of the most sophisticated protest films ever made. Like The Battle of Algiers, it is a recreation of an actual incident, recalled in a spirit of quiet fury.

Stefan Kanfer, Time

Fine mood, atmosphere and a classical rigidity give this tale of an event in a backward part of a newly-independent North African country a telling force and a transcendent theme on old ways in conflict with the new...

Technically excellent, and beautifully lensed, sans excess.

Mosk in Variety

See also...

Exorcism

A series of scenes, multiplied over one another, depicts dancers progressing from a disciplined exercise class to freer movement. ... More »

Jules and Bajus

A lighthearted film about the rivalry of two Sunday fishermen on the shores of the river Marne. ... More »

Birthright

The film shows how the work of the Family Planning Association is directed towards helping not only those who wish to plan their families, but also those who are childless. The film emphasises some ... More »

From Generation to Generation

By means of diagrams and actual photography the film tells with imagery and symbolism the story of human reproduction. ... More »

I Want to go to School

The impression of a day at an average Primary School. The main theme of the film is the relationship which develops between child and teacher during the early years of education. Sequences which ... More »

TRIO

The lives of three young people are intertwined in this initial feature by Gian Mingozzi. A young girl who wins a pop singing contest is seen to triumph in her work as a singer. An introverted youth ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director