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
This film's closing epilogue states: "In 1959, a law was passed to freeze the pensions of infantrymen from former French colonies about to become independent. In 2002, after endless hearings, the French government was ordered to pay the pensions in full. But successive governments have pushed back this payment." See more »
Military trucks used in the Italian front look like US M35 Vietnam era vehicles, WWII US trucks look very different. See more »
For the first time this year the Weinstein Company has made something bearable --Hell, actually something good. The film is called Days of Glory (a title strangely reconfigured from Indigènes) and it chronicles a regiment in the war against Nazism, or, as the French call it, "liberty". But, the catch here is that these soldiers, they aren't French: They're Algerian and Morroquian. The film first suffers from superfluous paper-mâché clichés in order to demonstrate racial inequality, not as a subtle character study, but rather as an insolent whole which creates that annoying been-there, done-that feeling. Such a scene occurs when Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila) realizes that not all African troops are getting tomatoes, where as the French are. What does he do? He smashes them so "Nobody can have them". Director Rachid Bouchareb narrative is also first a bit fragmented, jumping from country to country as if they were stones. Eventually, it develops into an assured rhythm which corroborates with the film.
Brilliance in Days of Glory neither comes from ideas nor direction, but rather, through the magisterial acting, prized at Cannes, and small war vignettes. They are gripping and moving, like all war movies should be. These war scenes are powerful, and that is what makes up Days of Glory, because in the end, Days of Glory is one of the few good but flawed war films worth a damn. It has power and it is evident that it uses it wisely and vigorously.
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