The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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‘Days Of Glory’ gives unsung heroes a voice

“Days of Glory,” opening tomorrow at the Angelika Film Center, is an Academy-award nominated movie that focuses on a tight-knit group of North African Muslim soldiers fighting the Nazis alongside French forces during World War II.

Originally titled “Indigènes” (“Natives” in English), this complex film spotlights four men from the lower rungs of society who transform into full-fledged war heroes by movie’s end. Between tightly directed battle scenes and emotionally charged dialogue, the movie focuses on the prejudice and scrutiny the men face from their French allies.

To make this situation more relatable, imagine the treatment of blacks during the American Civil War: Though they fought for the same goals as their fellow white soldiers, they were often overlooked and ignored. The same situation applies to the Muslims in the film.

I will admit that this movie runs dry at times; war can only be interesting to a certain degree. Fortunately, the characters are its saving grace.

The story follows each of the four brave men from deployment to victory, each with his own unique personality quirks. The star of the movie is baby-faced Said (Jamel Debbouze), who leaves his fretful mother to fight in the war that she warns him to stay away from.

The roles are well-acted by mostly unknown talent, though Jamel Debbouze may seem familiar to those of you who have seen “Amelie,” (another recent cinematic triumph from France). The story pits the men against drastic odds, from the storming of a hill heavily flanked by German artillery units to the valiant clash with advancing Nazi troops that marks what can best be labeled as the film’s climax.

The film is not of an exceedingly high entertainment value in its own right; its true value is intertwined in the historical context of its production.

The core subject of discrimination may seem quite obscure to those who view the events in the film as merely historical and no longer relevant. The converse is true; the violent riots that swept through eastern France in 2005 involved a large percentage of French citizens of North African descent.

Nearly 70 years have passed since the fictionalized (though representatively realistic) events in the film occurred, and the fact that riots were triggered by the (arguably) wrongful deaths of two French teenagers is indicative of a deeper underlying societal ailment.

In an online article (“Understanding the Violence”) published months after the riots, Canadian news outlet CBC News explained that much of the frustration stems from the Muslims’ being labeled as immigrants, though most of them are in fact citizens.

These North African descendants feel marginalized, especially considering what a social stigma it was to be seen as an African immigrant. It is only one of a long list of social injustices that still exist, but the film’s release brought with it some hope: Jacques Chirac has vowed to issue payments to the families of those Muslims who never received reimbursement.

Finally, World War II’s “forgotten heroes” have a shot at the glory that they’ve been denied for so long.

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