The Algerian submission for this year's Oscars in the Foreign-Language category is a war picture with much emotional resonance.
Days of Glory (Indigenes) deeply understands the human casualty of war as it moves from Morocco to Italy and, finally, to France. Perhaps it may be considered a softer version of Saving Private Ryan, though it does play at times as a strikingly gritty spectacle.
As sensitively directed by Rachid Bouchareb, one witnesses a group of North Africans trying to release France from the Allied stranglehold during WWII.
One sympathizes with those like Said (Jamel Debbouze) who moves up under a sergeant (Bernard Blancan). Said is unable to read and has been poor his whole life.
Roschdy Zem is Messaoud, an adroit marksman who becomes enamored with a gal (Aurelie Eltvedt) in Marseilles.
Sami Bouajila is Abdelkader is the born leader type looking to join the high command of French officers. And, Samy Naceri and Assaad Bouab are brothers, Yassir and Larbi, respectively, who find it hard to understand how the French could live in such a cold place. When it's winter time, of course.
Days of Glory has a conventional sweep for this kind of movie, but keeps the viewer involved with the increasingly unceremonious plight for this soldiers as they ultimately do battle with the enemy in an almost empty Alsatian village.
Bouchareb, who also serves as a co-writer, doesn't hurry it all too much as Muslims fight for a homeland who doesn't see them as the courageous, unrelenting men that they are on battlefields, some of which have a light, dusty quality to them. Unsentimental and without bombast, one is moved by the natural, unwavering nature of those unafraid at times to display emotion, whether on a Normandy-like trial battle in Italy or sharp ambush encounters.
Equality, freedom, and brotherhood are things that are important to them in the name of their country who didn't treat them with the same respect as the native Europeans. The history of human exploitation continues on with strong poignancy as grounded devotion and infighting, even to harsh personal degree, for those not allowed to connect with the home front.