Director: James Blue
The Olive Trees of Justice was made min Algeria by a young American, James Blue, who has lived in Bab-el-Oued for the past two years. Set in Algiers during what are tactfully called "les evenements", it tells a simple story of a young man born in Algeria but since settled in Paris, who comes home on the occasion of his father's death. The whole film consists of the confrontation of his childhood memories with the reality of Algeria today. His father is shown as a stalwart type, good to his Arab work men but still not quite accepting them. The conflicts of Arab beliefs with progress are sketched, as well as the need to understand that a new country is being born and that, though it may be difficult, the French and Algerians can live in peace with each other.
The young man's decision to return home for good has been interpreted by some as propaganda for Algerie Francaise; but happily the film is not on such a simple level. Perhaps it more effectively depicts a man's attainment of understanding and his finding of a cause.
The acting is sober, Jean Pelegri being especially capable as the rigid but humane father. Expertly edited, plainly but effectively directed, the film was shown at the Cannes Festival and acclaimed as "one of the small triumphs of the fortnight". The film is unsubtitled but an English commentary will be given by John Royle.