How Andor’s music pays homage to The Battle of Algiers, a classic war film set to music by Ennio Morricone

This post contains non-specific spoilers for Andor Episode 12, “Rix Road”.

The influences behind it Andor are less obvious than the classic western vibes The Mandalorian, or indeed George Lucas’s obsession with Akira Kurosawa. But if you’ve seen the acclaimed 1966 war film The Battle of Algiersit’s hard to avoid making comparisons with Andor‘s Ferrix sequences.

Known for its authentic recreations of urban guerrilla warfare, The Battle of Algiers was published a few years after Algeria gained independence from France. Starring a large ensemble cast of Algerian civilians, revolutionaries and French colonial troops, it contains detailed accounts of guerrilla tactics and French counterinsurgency techniques that show how Algerians fought back against the colonial government. And – crucial for this conversation Andor– It includes a beautiful score co-written by director Gillo Pontecorvo and legendary film composer Ennio Morricone.

The Battle of Algiers’ Music is an eclectic mix of orchestral music, military bands and traditional Algerian drumming. One of the most memorable parts is the theme of Ali (i.e. the young revolutionary Ali La Pointe), a repetitive flute riff that accompanies many scenes featuring Algerian characters. It bears a clear resemblance to one of the recurring motifs in which the composer uses Nicholas Britell Andor.

At the risk of sounding like the Charlie Day conspiracy mural meme, this resemblance is probably no coincidence. Britell is one of the most accomplished film composers of his generation and it would certainly make sense for him to refer to that The Battle of Algiers in scenes related to Ferrix.

Played on various instruments throughout the show, this motif can be heard (among others) in Maarva’s main theme, that heartbreaking scene where Cassian leaves Ferrix at the end of Episode 3, and here in an earlier scene at Rix Road, the Ort , which gave the final episode its title.

The two main sequences on Ferrix involve civilians opposing the Colonial forces: first the Pre-Mor Authority in Episode 3 and later the Imperial occupation. echo The Battle of Algiers, we see fights, arrests and chases through winding alleys and open streets. We will witness the birth of a riot when ordinary citizens decide to sabotage the police or make DIY bombs. We are also introduced to Ferrix’s culture and close-knit community, which contrasts with the rigid cruelty and lack of imagination displayed by the Empire.

Ferrix’s bell-like anvil is a fantastic detail throughout the first three episodes, functioning as a city-wide belfry and announcement system, reflecting how Ferrix citizens use makeshift bells to warn their neighbors of a police raid. This anvil plays a key role in the finale – as does the show’s main theme music.

A departure from the traditional orchestral score written by John Williams for the main score war of stars movies, Andor offers a wide range of genres and instruments. Nicholas Britell sets the tone each week with a different remix of the credits music, opening the finale with an eerie, slightly detuned mix of brass instruments. This is later illustrated by Maarva’s funeral procession, in which a brass band plays a slow, mournful piece depicting the Andor Theme – including flutes that again resemble this Battle of Algiers Track.

It’s a fitting conclusion to what is characteristically heartbreaking and thoughtful by Britell – and it feels right for the people of Ferrix to play this theme on screen, while the Empire has no universal musical culture of its own.

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*Initial publication: November 24, 2022 at 8:00 am CST

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in science fiction films and superheroes, she also appears as a film and television critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she is the co-host of the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

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