Days of Glory review

:. Director: Rachid Bouchareb
:. Starring: Jamel Debbouze, Samy Naceri
:. Running Time: 2:08
:. Year: 2006
:. Country: France


Sometimes, the message conveyed must transcend its medium: Days of Glory is a film I would recommend everyone to watch — most particularly in France — even though it's not a good movie.

Rachid Bouchareb's picture tells the little-known story of North-African troops, which fought in General de Gaulle's army alongside American and British allies to liberate France during World Word II.

If you're familiar with European history or saw The Battle of Algiers, you probably know that Algeria was a French colony until the sixties. The relationship between citizens from these two countries was always tense, not only involving exploitation but also racism and religious discrimination. Unsurprisingly, the same issues occurred in the ranks of the French army and this is what Bouchareb focuses on here, a year after the brilliant Hidden, which also aimed at exploring France's dark past.

While all soldiers were supposed to be equals, Algerians were treated as second-rate troops and the subject of discrimination when it came to food, grades, days off, mail, etc… The filmmaker certainly does a great job at opening our eyes here, even impacting current politics as, after screening Days Of Glory, French President Jacques Chirac passed a proposition that would finally pay the veterans the allowance they have been owed for the last decades.

While he succeeds at creating a good vehicle for his message, Bouchareb however fails as a director, as Days Of Glory is weighed down by war movie clichés. From the ending blatantly copying Saving Private Ryan's cheesy finale to the use of campaigns as chapters — think The Big Red One & Band of Brothers — and typical battle scenes, Bouchareb delivers a French-style second-rate WWII movie. But more disturbing is the poor writing of the characters and some miscasting. The sergeant who is ashamed of his origins but respects the colonials is just not believable, while his aide, played by French stand-up comic Jamel Debbouze is hard to be credible when you know that in real life his hand is paralyzed, which keeps making you notice he always has it in his pocket.

Despite being a filmmaking misfire, Days of Glory hits its target, which makes it a half-success or half-failure, depending on the angle you take.

  Fred Thom

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