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
The right arm of the actor Jamel Debbouze is paralyzed since an accident in his youth. But this fact is in the film totally ignored. Jamel carries a gun around with him, although he could not fire them. See more »
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 the tale of a very intrepid group of diverse African peoples that were recruited to help defend and free France during WW2. It was very inspiring that these men could go to such lengths to help France when not being treated as equals to the French, even though they were to consider France their homeland. This was based on true events that happened. It was filmed to deal with the war experience of the men as individuals as opposed to just a fighting war movie that makes people seem anonymous. There were gruesome parts but true to any movie of war. It portrayed these men as heroic and very human. Unappreciated by the French even years later when pensions were withheld. It was very touching without being sentimental.
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