Days of Glory Rachid Bouchareb

This French/Algerian Oscar-nominee is a film that constantly hedges its bets; it flip-flops back and forth between critique and glorification in the hopes of pleasing colonist, coloniser and anybody else who might wander in unawares.

Days of Glory deals with the Algerian forces that fought with the French in WWII, with the usual rag-tag group of recruits led by one Sergeant Martinez (Bernard Blancan) regardless of the lack of respect from their French masters. They seem to be good enough to fight but not to have the privileges that their European peers enjoy: they’re constantly segregated from the other soldiers and refused promotions even when they clearly qualify.

In fact, the treatment is often so shabby that you wonder why there isn’t more bitterness: with the exception of the rather determined Corporal Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila), who stands tallest and seems the most anchored, most of the recruits register as passive and bewildered, if not outright children. They don’t seem to be as angry about their lot as they should be. Given the events that happened in Algeria nearly 20 years later, you’d expect more cogent critique of the colonists and less pride in the war that bought the Algerians exactly nothing.

Though it attempts to redress the issue of France’s refusal to pay these soldiers’ back pay once the war was over, it seems just as determined not to be too acidly critical, a set of cross-purposes that makes for one very schizo motion picture. But though Days of Glory is interesting on the level of curio, it’s still fairly mediocre filmmaking.