Algeria, 1943, through Italy and France, to Alsace in early 1945, with a coda years later. Arabs volunteer to fight Nazis to liberate France, their motherland. We follow Saïd, dirt poor, an orderly for a grizzled sergeant, Martinez, a pied noir with some willingness to speak up for his Arab troops; Messaoud, a crack shot, who in Province falls in love with a French woman who loves him back; and Abdelkader, a corporal, a budding intellectual with a keen sense of injustice. The men fight with courage against a backdrop of small and large indignities: French soldiers get better food, time for leave, and promotions. Is the promise of liberty, equality, and fraternity hollow?Written by
In the scene when the African soldiers raise the French tricolor over the Italian mountain top, the flag they use is polyester (i.e. a contemporary flag). World War II troops would have used a cotton flag. See more »
This is a French film that "Explifies Human Tragedy". One, it shows the dark side of war and the reasons why good vs. bad is being defended and it also exemplifies clearly how those we consider the good guys, are actually in the same category as the enemy...Racists. It is a film that shows the unknown exploits of brave North African "French" WWII recruits fighting alongside French compatriots to expel the Germans from their homeland...France. We have all come accustomed to seeing so many movies of WWII, showing in detail why the Germans were so bad, yet we have never been exposed in great detail as this film as illustrated, the realities of a double standard that was practiced in those days by the victors of a repressive regime. This is a film that touches all of us and tells us what it means to be loyal and patriotic as well as exposing that thin veil that no matter where you come from, what color or creed you may be, Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is fought with that regard in mind. Unfortunately, as this film illustrates, those ideas are an exception to the need for victory and an exception to the rule of becoming a second class citizen again when those rules do not apply any longer. This film left me with such a deep understanding like no other WWII film I have seen in my 50+ years. It left me with deep respect to those men of little education but full of monumental pride and dignity. I highly recommend this film and personally think that it was one of the best films I have ever seen. The acting from mostly unknown actors is simply a miracle and the director certainly deserves more credit than he has received. How this film ever got released without the accolades it rightly deserves is certainly one of the greatest omissions in movie history.
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