Days of Glory (Indigenes) (2006)
Days of Glory (Indigenes) (2006)

Genre: War Running Time: 2 hrs.

Release Date: September 3rd, 2006 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Rachid Bouchareb Actors: Jamel Debbouze, Samy Naceri, Roschdy Zem, Sami Bouajila, Bernard Blancan, Mathieu Simonet, Melanie Laurent

 


 

F

our North African men (Roschdy Zem, Samy Naceri, Jamel Debbouze, and Sami Bouajila) enlist to help the French destroy rising Nazism and discrimination during World War II. Through vicious confrontations and disquieting downtime in France, the soldiers realize that what each fights for is entirely different – and altogether misinformed. Whether revenge, duty, heroism, or appreciation are sought, ideals disintegrate in the chaos of gunfire and during rumination on loss.

“Days of Glory” examines the moral complications of war with careful attention and sentimentality, as each of the four main characters demonstrates disparate reasons for joining, rife with preconceived notions of what they are fighting for. The analyzation of these motives is a main theme of the film and serves well to advance the story. Bouajila is particularly intriguing due to his leadership skills, drive for equality, and interest in advancement up the ranks; yet his participation is often for a symbolic purpose, which shifts as the film progresses. His belief that the liberation of France will personally benefit him and his people is unnervingly shattered as the conclusion draws nearer. And though he also believes in doing the right thing, he’s faced with pressures from his battalion and from French leaders, which distorts that cause into a rather inconsistent factor. Due recognition and the celebration of achieving his goals are also cut short when he realizes the obligatory stance of the French; what he accomplishes in the end is nearly nothing, as he’s left only with the reflection of his sacrifices and the deaths of his peers.

The other prominent theme in the film is equality. The little known situation of North African segregation and prejudices during the war is admirably addressed, presenting notable injustices served to soldiers who willingly sacrificed their lives for France. A line spoken by one of the stars perhaps best sums up their constant struggle: “German bullets don’t pick and choose their targets.” Treated as inferior to the French troops, numerous North African soldiers who fought just as bravely and vigilantly failed to receive proper treatment, supplies, rations, and leave, and were resolutely snubbed of the simple acknowledgement that would have appeased a great many of them.

“Days of Glory” takes its time to study the four leading individuals, appropriately developing them into atypical antiheroes, with relatable ethics, goals, and resultant suffering, even if they’re thrust into an environment in which actions and reactions are extreme or spontaneous. And audiences also get to witness actors not known for dramatic roles turn in Oscar-worthy performances. On the technical front, the color scheme and lighting are first class, embellished with unique transition shots that introduce changes in location and time. What appear to be clouds roll across black and white terrain to reveal vibrant, full color; explosions send up cascading rocks and debris that rain down upon the men as they ascend an enemy mountain stronghold; and the camera becomes completely immersed in blackness at times, with little more than the sounds of bullets piercing the air and the cries of fallen comrades, as if a soldier fighting alongside the troops.

Drawing influences from “Saving Private Ryan” (but with a greater and more analytical scope) and “Jarhead,” Algeria’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar contender (originally titled “Indigenes”) presents a sweeping war epic resplendent with devastating morality issues and consuming infantry battles. It may creep into an overly long running time, but it doesn’t forget to nurture heartfelt, august characters and stirring situations that question the motives of war and the jarring injustices undeniably rendered. And though the film slows at a few points for character development or extra details, viewers are presented with an exquisite look into a rarely examined aspect of WWII, full of behavioral examinations and informative messages.

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10