Days of Glory - Review
Review by Tim Carson
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Introduction By Rachid Bouchareb: The Director Of ‘Days Of Glory’ Discusses The Film And Its Impact; The Making Of Days Of Glory: An In Depth Journey Into The Creation Of This Astonishing And Powerful Epic; Q&A With Director Rachid Bouchareb Originally Broadcast On Al Jazeera Television; Historical Background – Explore The Real Life Inspiration Behind The Film’s Moving Story; Theatrical Trailer.
SAID, Abdelkader, Messaoud, Yassir and his brother Larbi are just five of the 130,000 or so North Africans who enlist in the French army to fight the Germans during the Second World War.
The company begins the war in Italy under the leadership of Sergeant Martinez and they fight their way into France. Treated with prejudice by their French commanders, the soldiers still risk their lives knowing they will never be treated equally. But a final confrontation between the some of the soldiers and the Germans puts that courage and loyalty to the test.
The fact that the story of the North Africans who enlisted in the French army during the Second World War to help free the “motherland” is largely unknown makes this more than just another war film.
While it is a cracking war film in the traditions of Saving Private Ryan, The Longest Day and Flags Of Our Fathers, it also has a deeply political edge.
Director Rachid Bouchareb uses the film to make a political point. We are told at the end that in 1952 soldiers from French colonies who fought in the Second World War had their war pensions stopped. Last year French President Jacques Chirac agreed to restore it having seen this film which makes Days of Glory even more powerful.
That aside the film also looks great and the battle scenes have an urgency and grim, gritty reality. The episodic nature of the film works well too with battles scenes mixed with more mundane aspects of army life. Underpinning it all is the resentment the North African troops feel at the discrimination dealt to them by their French commanders (while the French troops get leave all they get is new boots).
Days of Glory’s real strength lies in the performances of its actors, which as an ensemble won them the Best Actor award at last year’s Cannes film festival. The main cast make even situations familiar to us from other war movies fresh and emotionally charged. If you enjoyed Flags Of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima then see this too as it’s a worthy companion.
Running time: 2hrs