May 25, 2006

Cannes. Indigènes.

"This morning's press screening of Days of Glory [site], by French/Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb, was greeted with grand applause," writes Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa. "Featuring four top actors - Jamel Debbouze, Roschdy Zem, Sami Bouajila and Samy Nacéri - the moving war epic reveals the truth behind a dark event in French history: the active participation of North Africa soldiers during the 1944-1945 Liberation from Fascism and Nazism."

Days of Glory

Kirk Honeycutt in the Hollywood Reporter: "Days of Gory makes no departures from previous war films, but the tensions between the French commanders and the indigenous troops - and the conflicts among themselves over how best to respond to provocations - gives the film its dramatic punch."

Time Out's Geoff Andrew: "While in many ways it can be seen simply as a maghrebi version of Band of Brothers, the refusal to reduce the characters to black-and-white ciphers do ensure that we are caught up in the movie as drama rather than as a polemical rewriting of history; the robust but subtle performances of a fine cast help out no end in this respect too."

Updates, 5/26: "While Days of Glory is emphatic, it is far from heavy-handed, and the problem it addresses is hardly one that ended with the liberation of France (or, for that matter, of Algeria)," writes AO Scott in the New York Times. "You only have to think back to the riots of last autumn - or walk the streets of Cannes outside the festival perimeter - to see that the tensions between France's republican ideals and its social realities have, if anything, grown more acute in the generations since 1945."

Roger Ebert: "At last, on Day 9 of the Cannes Film Festival, an old-fashioned real movie, with a beginning, middle and end, characters, a story, and a powerful message." Commentary: Mike D'Angelo.

Update, 5/27: "[U]nquestionably a powerful film shedding light on a dark corner of French history," writes Salon's Andrew O'Hehir. "With the right handling, upscale Americans could become interested."

Updates, 5/28: Jason Solomons in the Observer: "I admired the frill-free way it told its story and it beats with such a humane heart that it can proudly take its place alongside more artful French war classics such as Tavernier's Life and Nothing But, François Dupeyron's Officer's Ward and even Louis Malle's Au Revoir Les Enfants."

Cineuropa's Fabien Lemercier interviews Bouchareb.

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Posted by dwhudson at May 25, 2006 9:19 AM


It's good to hear that Bouchareb's film played well at Cannes; the buried history of indigenous veterans is one that he has tackled before in The Colonial Friend (here's the streaming video without subs) which almost seems like a storyboard to this film from the Cannes description. I admire his work a good deal, they're thoughtful and understated, poignant but never sentimental.

Posted by: acquarello at May 25, 2006 9:42 AM

Many thanks for that amazing tip, acquarello.

Posted by: David Hudson at May 25, 2006 3:04 PM