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February 2007


by Melissa Walters


Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Director: Rachid Bouchareb
Screenwriter: Olivier Lorelle, Rachid Bouchareb
Cast: Jamel Debbouze, Samy Naceri, Sami Bouajila, Roschdy Zem, Bernard Blancan, Matthieu Simonet






Academy Award nominated film Indigenes (Days of Glory), co-written and directed by Rachid Bouchareb, goes beyond the drama and violence of a typical World War II story, to explore the relationship and disappointments of four Algerian soldiers who risk life and limb to liberate war torn France. Led by Corporal Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila), the Algerian soldiers loyalty to the country is not reciprocated; the soldiers quickly discover that while good enough to die for France; they are not good enough to partake in the same food as their French counterparts; are ineligible to take leave; and are overlooked for well deserved promotions.

Corporal Abdelkader is joined by Messaoud Sauni (Roschdy Zem), who harbors a forbidden love with a French woman, Said Otmari (Jamel Debbouze), a passive, non confrontational soul who denies his desire to become literate under the stare of the formidable Sergeant Roger Martinez (Bernard Blancan), and Yassir (Sami Naceri), who is consumed with cynicism about their treatment as second class citizens. Under the leadership of self-loathing Arabic, Sergeant Martinez, Corporal Abdelkader motivates his troupe to embark in battles throughout Italy, France and culminating in Alcase, to free these territories from German control.

The outcome is sadly predictable and to add insult to injury, the scenic and poignant tale ends with the stark reminder that the French government saw fit to freeze the Algerian World War II veteran’s pension until 2002.

While reminiscent in a certain vein of Edward Zwick’s Glory, this film nevertheless proves its significance, particularly in its portrayal of Muslim heroism and patriotism in this post 9/11 era. Coupled with performances by established French actors truly deserving of the Best Actor award earned at Cannes, this film offers more than a gruesome war story or a forgotten history lesson. It is an effective portrayal of the perseverance of the human spirit in the face of oppression and rejection, and is likewise deserving of its Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film.