Days Of Glory (Indigènes)

Mark DAYS OF GLORY

6/6
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5/6
4
57%
4/6
3
43%
3/6
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2/6
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1/6
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Total votes: 7
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Chevalier Bayard
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Days Of Glory (Indigènes)

Postby Chevalier Bayard » Sun 15 Oct, 2006 16:01

Last friday with Liewen we saw a movie which has made a lot of people speaking about it here in France since its presentation at Cannes Movies Festival. I'm talking about Rachid Bouchareb's Days Of Glory (Indigènes).

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IMDb wrote: Indigènes (2006)
Director: Rachid Bouchareb
Genre: Drama / History / War
Also Known As: Days of Glory (Singapore: English title) (USA)
Runtime: France:128 min / Canada:120 min (Toronto International Film Festival)
Country: France / Morocco / Algeria / Belgium
Language: French / Arabic
Color: Color
Certification: Singapore:NC-16 / Switzerland:12 (canton of Vaud) / Switzerland:12 (canton of Geneva)
Awards: 2 wins & 1 nomination (more)

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In Days Of Glory, Rachid Bouchareb indeed choses a subject mainly forgotten by what would be called the "Official History of WWII": the important role played by soldiers recruited in the North African Colonies, the "Indigènes" (indigenous), and integrated in the ranks of the French Army.

Following the Normandy landing and the Soviet army on the Eastern Front these soldiers were on the third front with a tough offensive from the South and from Italy. Casualties were high among these French troops, many of whom were from France's colonies.

Some were french of the colonies, the "pieds noirs" (black feet) as they are called in France, the others were locals called by "indigènes" (indigenous). Most of them had never seen the "mother country" with their own eyes before joining the Army.

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One of the main characters of the movie, at least for the time on screen and for the fact we get to know him better than the rest, is Saïd, played by the french actor Jamel Debbouze.

In Days Of Glory starts with his volontary incorporation in the army. As a young shepherd he wants to see his life changing, opening itself to new perspectives, therefore he answers the calls of the recruiters and jump in a truck to the war and the unknown, to the great distress of his mother who has already lost seen her father go for the war in the pasr and never coming back.

The mother seems to have watch over her son far too closer as it appears quick that Saïd is innocent and "bumbling" like a child. Hopefully his caporal (~"first class" but it should be confirmed by someone like Carloman or Liewen...), Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila), is a man of good who takes him under his protection before sergent Martinez (Bernard Blancan) "promotes" Saïd as his personnal assistant.

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Martinez is a "pieds noirs" who hides his metis origins as he knows that this knowledge would make him perceive by the french as an "indigène" and therefore, loose part of his powers and all chances of ever being promoted or taking seriously...

You can imagine that as a "pieds noirs" he has been raised in the ideas that his french blood made him superior to the indigenous. Nevertheless he is the first mentally injuried and sad by seeing how little respect  frenchmen from the continent  show to their brothers in arms from the colonies.

This situation puts him in a very difficult situation when he finds himself obliged to keep order in his section which implied for example to calm down his caporal.

Indeed Abdelkader sees his original philosophy of the will being little by little destructed by the realization he will never be promoted despite his high level of military education for the simple fact he is not a french native. That drives him to wonder for which "Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood" (French official moto) he and his indigenous brothers in arms are fighting for. With his instruction and ability to speak in public, Abdelkader's character symbolize the nascent independent movement of the colonies.

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The main force of Days Of Glory resides in the characters it presents. They are very very well written and each of them represents a different state of mind belonging to that time.

We've already talked about Abdelkader but Martinez symbolizes very efficiently as well the difficulties of the "pieds noirs" who saw their feelings trapped between a true love for their native country and its inhabitants and an education coming from their french origins which go with some a certain social behaviour as ambassadors in the colonies of the mother country who finally doesn't care much about the colonies' population.

Saïd is the "good native" as colonist liked them: good hard workers, faithfull and reliable, with a level of education just high enough to prevent strange ideas of freedom appear in their minds. All people of good who just want to live their life in peace, don't care much about the rest and often become the easy targets of disapointed and embittered people.

These two adjectives are usable for the character of Messaoud (Roschdy Zem) who, as I've perceived him, represents the "average man". Not as naive as Saïd and not as clever as Abdelkader he is among the silent majority who perceives the situation like it is but just doesn't feel like its action would change anything while it would ("awaken" by men like Abdelkader ...)...

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Messaoud has joined the army with the goal of seeing the mother country, finds love in this country and just wants to settle here once the war will be over and start a familly with Irène (Aurélie Eltvedt). The lovers, without suspecting it at first are the victims of state censorship regarding the mail, a state who doesn't let a chance to Messaoud to integrate himself in the french society while he's risking his life for it...

Finally we have Yassir played by Samy Naceri. Yassir is a "gourmier", a mercenary who gets involved in the war with his brother for very materialistic reasons in order to offer his brother a great wedding. Very sarcastic and cold toward the others at first, he finally reveals himself as a man of heart as well, after all as able as them to sacrifice everything for this egoistic mother country.

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Despite a perfect writing work on his characters, Days Of Glory also has some weakness. The first one could sound quite cold but the fact is Jamel Debbouze has got a "dead right arm" since an accident in his childhood. If he has prooven that this hadn't prevent him to reach the highest summits (he is a comic super-star in France and currently prooves he is an amazing actor), we can't help that seeing him with a rifle gun on the shoulder is nothing but ridiculous while it would have been very simple to give him a revolver from the begining (he does of course have a revolver for his gunfight battle scene). It's a small mistake but it has made me get out of the movie when it has occured... I was and still am confused also about the fact it seems Abdelkader stayed in Strasbourg (France) instead of going back to his country while I thought his very first goal would instead be to go back there and fight for independence...

Then, as a simple war movie Days Of Glory has other weakness, especialy of rythm, and also as it is sometimes confusing regarding what is really going on. I had the feeling we could have been faster on some scenes but should have been slower introducing some characters and the strategics. For example I hadn't really understood Samy Naceri's character before I read by myself on the net about the gourmiers. Anyway it stays a very powerfull and efficient movie as it is much more than a war movie.

This movie brings back to the front a subject "officially buried", a subject which France is clearly not proud of. As a result, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has announced that the pensions of ex-servicemen from its former colonies (from Africa but also from Asia), which were till 10 times lower than for the french veterans and were frozen till 1956 and the decolonization, will be unfrozen and aligned to the same level as the french ones. Belgium and Great-Britain are currently moving it that direction too. That is certainly a result about which Rachid Bouchareb and all Days Of Glory's crew can be proud of !

I think this movies does deserve a 5/6 for the "memory responsability", especially in these current times where the news often confuse our minds, and also because it is a very good movie ! ;)

Now I will end this topic launch with the song of the African Army we can hear during the movie (I invite the non-french speaking readers to copy/paste it in their favourite translator ;)).

Chevvie

C'est nous les Africains
Qui revenons de loin
Nous venons des colonies
Pour sauver la Patrie
Nous avons tout quitté
Parents, gourbis, foyers
Et nous avons au cœur
Une invincible ardeur
Car nous voulons porter haut et fier
Le beau drapeau de notre France entière
Et si quelqu'un venait à y toucher
Nous serions là pour mourir à ses pieds
Battez tambours, à nos amours
Pour le pays, pour la Patrie
Mourir au loin
C'est nous les Africains.
I
Nous étions au fond de l'Afrique
Gardiens jaloux de nos couleurs,
Quand sous un soleil magnifique
A retenti ce cri vainqueur
En avant ! En avant ! En avant !
II
Pour le salut de notre empire
Nous combattons tous les vautours
La faim, la mort nous font sourire
Quand nous luttons pour nos amours
En avant ! En avant ! En avant
III
De tous les horizons de France
Groupés sur le sol africain
Nous venons pour la délivrance
Qui par nous se fera demain
En avant ! En avant ! En avant !
IV
Et lorsque finira la guerre
Nous reviendrons dans nos gourbis ;
Le cœur joyeux et l'âme fière
D'avoir libéré le pays
En criant, en chantant : en avant !

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Postby toto joke » Sun 15 Oct, 2006 17:05

Congratulations for the very good analysis Chev, despite the fact I think you tell too much things that people here should discover by himself.

I just have to say I don't agree with you about the writing of the characters : the movie and the characters are far too much didactical. "Indigenes" main characters seem to exist only to incarnate values, it lacks flesh and bone. You're right when you say each one of them symbolise a particular profile of "indigene" : the "good native", "the one who will fight for independance", etc... I think the message of "Indigenes" is good but at the same time overwhelm the emotional intensity and complexity of characters.

Strangely, the more interesting character is not an indigene but the Pied Noir Martinez, because he hides secrets and he is tridimensional.

For me the main force and at the same time weakness of the movie is this kind of too-heavy "devoir de memoire" profession of faith.
A must-seen for school pupils which tries to be entertaining and sometimes succeed.

4/6

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Postby Chevalier Bayard » Sun 15 Oct, 2006 18:20

Thanks for you words toto :)

Actually it's always the same delicate problem between "saying enough to be a mimimum interresting and give people the desire to see the movie" and "wasting others' pleasure spoiling too much elements" ... not always easy especially when you really want to discuss about the movie.

Strangely I agree with what you thought to be a disagreement with my review regarding the writing of the characters. As I've said there I salute a very good work on them as "symbols" of different tendencies of their times but on the contrary I've been quite frustrated to not learn a bit more from them and I hadn't really get the character of Yassir before getting informations about the gourmiers nor I understand for what reasons Abdelkader stayed in France after the war instead of going back to his country.

I do agree as well that Martinez is a very interresting character, probably indeed the most interresting one, very well interpreted by Bernard Blancan (hey ! I've just discovered he has a blog: http://www.blancan.com :D)


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Picture from the best actor award at Cannes Festival, awarding this year collectively Roschdy Zem, Jamel Debbouze, Sami Bouajila, Bernard Blancan and Samy Naceri (not on the picture)

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Postby JackSlater » Tue 17 Oct, 2006 18:30

4/6 to me
The movie is really good but I don't like the way the french are presented, the director show you like racist, all french without exeption.....
They forgot that the pension had been congeled because the new africans independant governement tell to the France to congealed them......
Rochdy Zehm, Sami Bouajila and Jamel Debouze act very very good
But Samy Naceri  :?

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Postby Chevalier Bayard » Tue 17 Oct, 2006 21:55

If you've just seen in this movie that french are depicted as racist you've just completely missed the point anakin ... Beware to not stop at the first degree ;)

French are not depicted as racist but as colonialist which wichever you want it or not was a fact at that time. Actually I just remember of one soldier using the word "bougnoules" (french bad word I don't know how to translate) regarding the natives but Irene can hardly be seen as racist as she wants to build her life with Messaoud. The captain of the boat to Provence is also all but racist as, of course, Martinez who is "pieds noirs" yes but french and, if he would cut his right arm instead of admiting it, we see he cares A LOT about these men.


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