Days of Glory

French colonial subjects rescue their cruel oppressors. Quelle ironie.

As much a political as an aesthetic event, Rachid Bouchareb's drama about the plight of Algerian soldiers who fought for France in World War II has been compared to Edward Zwick's Glory. Structurally, though, the movie recalls earnest period war movies like William Wellman's 1945 Story of G.I. Joe, as it follows the brutal attrition of a single Algerian army unit fending off Nazis from Morocco through Italy and on into France, where their sacrifices for the "motherland" are rewarded with discrimination on every front. Days of Glory is as moving as it is ingenuous, with each doomed character symbolizing a different response to the collective dilemma these men face as Arabs with divided loyalties. Given their treatment, and the fact that the movie was made in part to shame the French government into restoring pensions it had cut when the former colony got its independence (the ploy worked), one has to wonder just how unalloyed Algerian loyalty could ever have been to its occupier. For the answer to that, look back, and forward, to The Battle of Algiers.

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