By William Wolf

DAYS OF GLORY (INDIGÈNE)  Send This Review to a Friend

French director Rachid Bouchareb, whose ethnicity stems from Algeria, has made a powerful war film that demonstrates how Algerians who fought hard and patriotically for France in World War II suffered the indignities of discrimination even while risking their lives, and in the ensuing years Algerian veterans were shortchanged in at atmosphere that still makes many second class citizens.

“Days of Glory”—its French title is “Indigène”—has many of the ingredients of a war epic, including heroism, loyalties and brutal losses. But the overall point of view expressed by Bouchareb and screenwriter Oliver Lorelle elevates the film to a special stature. The English title itself implies the irony of glory undercut by reality.

The film gains from effective portrayal of the circumstances under which Algerian men enlisted and depiction of the soldiers by an excellent cast, including Jamel Debbouze, Samy Nacéri, Roschdy Zem, Sami Bouajila, Bernard Blancan, Mathieu Simonet and others. There is gritty realism, but also there are the human qualities expressed in most of the better war films.

It is quite amazing to see the optimism of the men who consider France their home and are willing to die for it because their country is under French rule. Of course, now we know the bitter history in which France desperately tried to hold onto Algeria in bloody battles and with torture rampant. It was a situation that tore France apart internally before it was resolved.

That history makes all the more heartbreaking the film’s revelation of the struggle over the elementary right of the World War II veterans of Algerian background to receive pensions due them.

“Days of Glory” is one of the better French-language imports in recent years and Algeria’s Oscar entry. A Weinstein Company and IFC Films release.


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