We have all watched war movies before and several high-impact ones for that matter and “Days of Glory” is yet another movie of war with related subjects observed in other movies of its kind. However, the film is well directed by director Rachid Bouchareb and produces a certain effect that is created by the powerful action and drama contained in the film.
The basic theme of the film is to glorify the fallen heroes who had bravely fought to liberate France from the Nazis during World War II, but had been a victim of racial prejudice even though they were fighting to free a country, which did not belong to them.
Here the discriminated troops are the Muslim soldiers of North Africa who have been recruited, as is clarified in the opening scene, “We must save our fatherland!” Why are these soldiers fighting for a country that isn’t theirs? It is because during this period, North Africa was under the French colonial rule and so the men thought that liberating their rulers from another foreign power was their duty and so they took it upon themselves to help the French army fight back the much detested Germans. The four Arab soldiers Abdulkader, Massoud, Yassir and Saeed bear the brunt of racial prejudice from their French counterparts.
As the story moves on, we watch Sergeant Martinez send these men on several suicidal missions. The men are sent to fight at some of the most dangerous and precarious battle fronts where they fight with valour, defeating their much stronger opponents while the French army hides behind a hillock watching the action. They then take the forefront when they know that the enemy is defeated and fight off the weakened Nazi soldiers. Even though the Arabs are offering their lives to free France, in the mess scene we notice that the French troops are offered a ripe tomato with their meal while the indigenous soldiers are not.
It is not until AbdulKader, the leader of the African soldiers retaliates against this discrimination that his men are deprived of this privilege at the mess. However, the film takes a turn for the better for these soldiers when they enter Provence because here they are cheered by the grateful crowds for being their brave liberators. Also Massoud has an unexpected affair with a French woman who is full of gratitude for what the North African soldiers have done for her country. Massoud is as surprised as anyone else that a French lady should fall in love with a man coming from a country that was under the colonial power.
The actors have given a superb performance while the direction is commendable and the combat scenes consist of intense action, making the film really worth watching. Having won several accolades at international film festivals such as the Cannes Film Festival and being an official entry in the foreign films category to the Oscars, “Days of Glory” has certainly got the power to hold one’s attention without distraction, even though at times it may remind you of other war time movies comprising of almost similar scenes.