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Pepe Le Moko and the Casbah

by Kate Fortmueller

Pepe Le Moko is part gangster film, part policier, and part colonial film. Pepe Le Moko is a criminal who is escapes France and lives in the Casbah, the Muslim section of Algiers. Although Pepe Le Moko can’t be arrested or captured in the Casbah, it becomes a different kind of prison for him. In the final sequence Pepe Le Moko leaves the labyrinthine Casbah in an attempt to meet up with his love (who is returning to France). Pay specific attention to the depiction of urban space in this sequence. How does the Casbah transform as Pepe Le Moko progresses through it? How does the film visually distinguish between the space of the Casbah and the rest of Algiers?

Pepe Le Moko (1937) - Pepe Le Moko leaves the casbah

In this sequence Pepe Le Moko learns that his love is leaving and he ventures out of the casbah to see her.

from Pepe Le Moko (1937)
Creator: Jean Duvivier
Distributor: The Criterion Collection
Posted by Kate Fortmueller