End of the Algeria war ,1961.In a small base in the desert,a lieutenant is waiting for his promotion (he expects to become a captain any day now).Under his orders ,a sarge and a bunch of other conscripts.One of them is some kind of village idiot and ,for fear he might become mad,he was a given a wooden gun (hence the title).
Lagrange is the soldiers' laughing stock ,but the sarge,first irritated by this burdensome presence, tries to communicate with him,he makes him speak of his family,he buys him a rabbit when his is shot.Sometimes the viewer wonders whether this dunce might not be a pretender;or if the director uses him as a metaphor:in a foolish situation (a dirty war which the draftees do not care about a little bit),maybe a fool is right not to play the game.But the ending of the movie,which I will not reveal,will prove all this wrong.
What's amazing is the difference between "le fusil de bois" and the early seventies movies dealing with the same subject Yves Boisset's "RAS" and René Vautier's "avoir vingt ans dans les Aurès".The militant virulent tone has almost disappeared,and has been replaced by a certain bonhomie ,a "it could be worse" feeling.
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