french films > Days of Glory

Days of Glory

Days of Glory

Review score: * * * * *

cast: Jamel Debbouze, Samy Nacéri, Roschdy Zem

year: 2006

colour: no


director: Rachid Bouchareb

runtime: 128

The English title of Rachid Bouchareb's heartfelt and finally heartrending World War II drama draws attention to the fact that it echoes the kind of tough, humanist war movies made in Hollywood in the late 40s and 50s. That's certainly no failing: a tribute to the sacrifices made by hundreds of thousands of North Africans drafted into the French army to help liberate la patrie, the film deploys a linear narrative and vividly drawn characters to chart the experiences of a handful of Algerians and Moroccans as they make their perilous way through Italy, Provence and the Vosges to Alsace. Coupled with the superb performances - Jamel Debbouze, Roschdy Zem and Sami Bouajila shared the Cannes Best Actor prize - this results in strong, clear storytelling, so that by the time we get to an expertly mounted encounter with the Nazis in a half-abandoned village, we care deeply about the fates of every main character, sympathetic or otherwise. It would be wrong, however, to infer that the film's merely a French Saving Private Ryan; as the final moments make all too clear, its scathing critique of the racism, exploitation and injustices perpetrated on the North Africans by the French they were helping remains as relevant to the present as to the past.


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