Days of Glory Rachid Bouchareb

Days of Glory Rachid Bouchareb
Days of Glory is a more-than-worthy addition to the recent canon of World War II movies but with a crucial difference, namely its highlighting of an under-recognised arena of conflict: the battles of the Free French, comprised mostly of the fighting men of the French colonies in Africa, to liberate France from the Nazis. The movie focuses on a group of Muslim recruits from North Africa that become hardened veterans over the course of two years of fighting. They face not only the Germans but the privations of life in a colonised army, denied the leave granted their white counterparts and basics such as decent footwear with which to trudge through the snow. The film lays out its conflicts very simply and soberly. While it’s somewhat prosaic and very conventional in its reliance on fairly stock war movie types (the rebel, the tough-as-nails sergeant with a heart of gold, etc.), it has a remarkable cumulative power. Bouchareb gets impressive performances from his ensemble, notably Sami Bouajila as the rebellious Corporal Abdelkader, and comedian Jamel Debbouze as the naïve Said, who experiences a profound loss of innocence. While his battle scenes lack the visionary grandeur of the big set pieces in Terence Malick’s The Thin Red Line or the pyrotechnics of the D-Day landing of Saving Private Ryan, they match in horrifying precision Clint Eastwood’s work in his Iwo Jima diptych. By the film’s harrowing climax, where four of the soldiers fend off scores of Nazis in a tiny village in Alsace, your involvement in their plight will be total. The extras consist of a decent "making of” featurette and a melancholy animated short by Bouchareb, "The Colonial Friend,” about a Senegalese recruit fighting for France in 1940.