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
1 ) The sort that is beloved by Cahiers Du Cinema that often feature people standing about talking about existentialist themes and often don't find a market outside France
2 ) The sort that is despised by Cahiers Du Cinema that often feature action and plot and appeal to an international market
DAYS OF GLORY is certainly in the second camp . The problem is that it's a bit too international . The theme of colonial soldiers fighting for the mother country could have easily have featured British dominion troops fighting in the Boer war , of Indian troops fighting at El Alamein or even of black Americans fighting in the second world war . Some people on this page have criticised this movie as not being a Gallic version of GLORY and you can see their point . There's little in the way of an idiosyncratic voice
Worse still despite the subtitles you could easily be watching a war film that was made in Hollywood . Much of the plot could have easily been lifted from Sam Fuller's THE BIG RED ONE as the story jumps from North Africa , Italy and eventually France . It's also impossible not to notice that the final climatic battle owes a lot to the climax of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN . Perhaps that's why DAYS OF GLORY received high praise down to its familiar story that English speaking fans of war films have seen so many times before ?
It could have been much worse though . On a technical level it's a competent enough movie and it doesn't go overboard that the Goumier troops are some how slaves press-ganged in to joining the Free French forces but it does effectively ignore the sometimes horrendous reputation Goumier troops had in Axis territories where women are concerned . The 1960 Italian film TWO WOMEN goes in to this in detail and you can imagine that's why the protagonists service in Italy is skated over very slightly . One wonders if the producers might have been worried about an international audience being alienated by bringing up the subject in any length ? As it it stands DAYS OF GLORY is a good enough war film though very traditional
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