22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
something of an ironic title, but a simply superb film,
This review is from: Days Of Glory  [DVD] (DVD)So World War 2, and everybody is fighting side by side against a common and hated enemy...nice idea, but it was never that way, and this film highlights this fact brilliantly. Four Algerian men, none of whom have ever set foot upon French soil, heed the call for troops to help liberate what to them is seen as the Motherland. Enlisting without any real thought about what they are doing this for apart from some barely realised idea of duty and honour, the men soon discover that racism exists, even in war, and even from your own side. Regarded with derision (the term "wogs" is used frequently throughout the film) by their own side and their own officers, the men are treated differently and although they fight the same fight, dodge the same bullets and shed the same blood, they are never really recognised for what they are...decent men fighting a horrible war for a country that unfortunately regards them as second class citizens.
The four main characters are superbly realised as living, breathing human beings with hopes and fears just like the rest of us. From Messaoud (Roschdy Zem), a man who falls in love with a beautiful French woman and wants nothing more than to return to her once the fighting is done, through Said (Jamel Debbouze), a dirt poor illiterate young man who joins up in a welter of patriotic fervour and soon discovers that it is not going to be glory after glory, Yassir (Samy Naceri), who has joined up for the money (whether paid or looted) and wants simply to protect his younger brother Larbi, to Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila) the corporal who leads the men and fights against the injustices he sees meted out on his men at every turn (whether it is being overlooked for deserved promotions or simply not getting the same food as the regular French soldiers), each one of them is allowed to grow as the film progresses, so that the viewer feels that they know each and every one of them (an idea Spielberg tried with some success in Saving Private Ryan, but with nothing like the effect here).
Directed by Rachid Bouchareb, this is a film that moves slowly and allows us to empathise and then sympathise with the characters. Whilst it contains some effective action set pieces, in particular a nerve shredding battle towards the end of the movie, this film is not about the violence of warfare, it deals with a very different theme, liberty and the right to be treated with respect. That this film served to force a change in French law, whereby the pension paid to colonial veterans were brought in line with those paid to regular French troops, and brought about similar changes in Holland, Italy and even Great Britain, just goes to show that cinema still has the power to change things for the better. This film is an honour and a privilege to watch, and a true testament to the bravery of men who fought for a country they didn't even know, but they did love.