In 1943, 130,000 North African men volunteer to help free France from Nazi occupation. Among them are Saïd (Debbouze), Abdelkader (Bouajila), Messaoud (Zem) and Yassir (Naceri), whose destinies are entwined as they fight from Italy to Alsace.
We’ve become too used to our race-related tales of historical injustice coming packaged by Hollywood with a fat white ribbon wrapped around them. You just know that if Ed Zwick had made Days Of Glory (called Indigènes, or ’natives’ in France), he’d have set the Caucasian corporal dead centre, where he could earn the grudging respect of his North African troops as they march towards their unsung doom. As it is, the corporal in question is a pale blur on the sidelines in Rachid Bouchareb’s vision of a war fought passionately by men you wouldn’t blame for caring little about their colonial masters.
Hardly surprising, given Bouchareb’s French-Algerian roots, but refreshing nonetheless. In a manner reminiscent of Sam Fuller’s critical The Big Red One, the film zones in on a small core of characters and turns them from green recruits to weary, hardened warriors through a punchy, episodic structure, as they trudge north to liberate a homeland they’ve never even seen.
Bouchareb doesn’t scrape deep enough to reveal precisely what compels sullen, illiterate Algerian peasant boy Saïd (Jamel Debbouze, of Amélie and Angel-A fame) or the sensitive, erudite Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila, who resembles a North African Ethan Hawke) to take up arms. Leathery mountain man Yassir (Samy ‘Taxi’ Naceri) is clearly in it for the spoils; sharpshooter Messaoud (Roschdy Zem) arguably for the girls — but is that really all it is?
Come the tense finale, as the quartet endeavour to defend an ailing Alsatian village, the question ceases to nag. It’s not the why that’s important, it’s the actions of these men — which only intensifies your outrage that the colonial troops were so shabbily treated after the war’s end. It’s a shame Bouchareb feels he needs a modern-day postscript to ram the point home, but we can forgive him that. After all, Days Of Glory is a truly excellent war picture. Bouchareb portrays battle as a series of dull, bloody and almost inevitably fatal thuds rather than pyrotechnic spectacle, and this admirable earthiness ensures the film remains awfully gripping without ever tumbling into Boy’s Own territory.
A war film more of sober, grim reflection than balls-out escapades. Yet it grips consistently, its bursts of combat delivering gut-punches of veracity.
Reviewed by Dan Jolin
Some may argue it is dull and boring, but this film is not about full blown action; it is more of a character piece that explores the dedication of the North African soliders that were poorly treated by the French. And it does this so well even though the action sequences could have benefited with a higher certificate rating . And to those who say it is dull and boring - whilst you no doubt will understand the film's message, you have missed so much. ... More
Posted by koreanjase at 22:26, 14 July 2008 | Report This Post
| Not bad at all...|
Some may argue it is dull and boring, but this film is not about full blown action; it is more of a character piece that explores the dedication of the North African soliders that were poorly treated by the French. And it does this so well even though the action sequences could have benefited with a higher certificate rating . And to those who say it is dull and boring - whilst you will no doubt understand the film's message, you have missed so much. ... More
Posted by koreanjase at 22:22, 14 July 2008 | Report This Post
| RE: *possible spoilers*|
Ooops, was about to say "As good as Talledega Nights but not a patch on Anchorman"... ... More
Posted by DanCurley at 21:53, 14 November 2007 | Report This Post
| RE: *possible spoilers*|
The unfortunate thing about the war genre, is that it can be very difficult to provide the film going public with something new. It's been drummed into us through countless films that 'War is Hell', that war produces impossibly strong bonds between the men in arms involved, and that those within the enemy side are just like our own boys, not simply faceless monsters. That's not to say that the countless number of films and series, old and new (Saving Private Ryan, Band of... More
Posted by Sway at 19:55, 14 November 2007 | Report This Post
an important message that sometimes is rammed in your face a bit too much.
the fact that one of the main characters only has one arm, so is constantly shown with his hand in his pocket prevented me from aking this as seriously as I think it was intended... ... More
Posted by davey_wan at 10:03, 24 September 2007 | Report This Post
| RE: Warning: This is not a war film|
A decent war film but none the tour de force I thought it would be.
It's well know how this film has changed policy in France and the final scenes are basically a big 'fuck you' at the French government but all this aside, it's a decent little war film dealing not so much is the men but what they hope to gain from it.
The Algerian corporal unites the other natives with his dream that they, like all other French soldiers, deserve some libertity, equality and fraternity despite the poo... More
Posted by Timon at 13:52, 19 April 2007 | Report This Post
|Warning: This is not a war film|
About 5% of this film has combat scenes in it. It's mostly about how badly the French dealt with their African and North African soldiers in WW2. Which is fine. Except it's badly directed and dull. And it has Jamel Debbouze in it who's an OK actor but in real life only has one arm. The film makers think they get away with this by having him walking around with a prosthetic arm tucked in a pocket. I gave this film the very rare distinction of leaving before the end as it was so slow. And I like F... More
Posted by platham42 at 11:36, 09 April 2007 | Report This Post
Fusing the personal and the political, this stirring war drama comes with a modern-day resonance and plenty of punch. Recommended. ... More
Posted by moviemaniac2 at 16:46, 31 March 2007 | Report This Post