In 1943, North African Muslims and black soldiers sided with the French to fight the Nazis. The French, who lost over a million of their own men, didn't exactly open their arms gratefully to the new soldiers. Instead, these patriotic men of color were called “indigenous” and treated horribly.
Three men, who normally wouldn't hang around each other, each have their own reason for joining a regime that blatantly despises them. Messaoud (Roschdy Zem) likes the respect that comes with wearing a soldier's uniform. Saïd (Jamel Debbouze) is poor and sees the army as his way out. His volatile temper makes him even more dangerous than the fight. Yassir (Samy Nacéri) never met an opportunity he couldn't manipulate. He enlists himself and his younger brother for the pay and the possibility of confiscating other spoils.
Many of these soldiers are older men with no proper training. Basically, it's grab a gun, shoot and try not to get killed. Saïd almost fails this lesson when he releases the pin of a live grenade.
The “indigenous” were not prepared for the heavy artillery from the Germans. Conveniently, the 1st French Army, as they were called, are first on the battle lines and are quickly killed off one by one. These inexperienced soldiers fight for a full year before claiming victory in 1945.
Suddenly, a new world opens and their race isn't an issue. This is what Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila), the corporal, relies on, hoping his unit can be recognized and considered heroes. He is under the misguided impression that if the unit proceeds with persistence and courage they will be remembered for their efforts.
Instead, 60 years later, the survivors are still unable to collect their retirement and pension. Of course, the French got their money, but a freeze has been placed on the 1st French Army.
Director Rachid Bouchareb, whose grandfather and great-grandfather fought in WWI and WWII respectively, should have won this year's Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The cinematography, the action, the actors; everything was astounding. The research alone deserves a medal.
There is so much truth and candid honesty in Days of Glory that it makes it impossible to forget now. To do so would be a crime, so don't even try.