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 »
indigenes is a WW2 epic - but it isn't just about the spectacle and destruction of war but about the human aspect of warfare.
Bouchareb has made a film that works on three different levels. On the one hand this is a films about comradeship, about men learning to work together as a team to overcome physical and mental hardship, and about survival. On the other it's about the forgotten soldiers of the second world war. France whitewashed the algerian army's support after Algeria declared independence from France, and it has become something of a scandal in recent years, one that the french government has now rectified on the back on this film.
On a much deeper level, and this is the reason I think the film is so important, it's about the arab world and the western world uniting against a common evil. And I think that, given the chaos and the paranoia that we live in now regarding the East and the Arab world, Indigenes' message is a powerful polemic that west and east can live and work together and that we have in the past been a unified force, and can still be - despite recent events.
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