In 2003, the New York Times reported that the Pentagon screened this film for officers and civilian experts who were discussing the challenges faced by the US military forces in Iraq. The flier inviting guests to the screening read: "How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas".
The character of Col. Matthieu is loosely based on the real life General Jacques Massu. Right-wing elements in the French Army, led by General Massu seized power in Algiers and threatened to conduct an assault on Paris, involving paratroopers and armored forces based at Rambouillet, unless Charles de Gaulle was placed in charge of the Republic of France.
According to French government figures, there were 236,000 Algerian Muslims serving in the French Army in 1962 (four times more than in the FLN), either in regular units (Spahis and Tirailleurs) or as irregulars (harkis and moghaznis). Some estimates suggest that, with their families, the indigenous Muslim loyalists may have numbered as many as 1 million. They are not portrayed in this film.