Days of Glory **
"Days of Glory" is a good old fashioned war movie. In fact, before going to see it I had this picture in my head, and they were all battle scenes from "The Big Red One." For some reason, simply reading the abridged plot of this in the little book they handed out at the theatre made me picture a black and white war flick with someone like John Wayne at the helm. And as a surprise this film came pretty close to reminding me of war films of the past. And unfortunately for me, I'm not a big fan of war films of the past. The war genre was just something I could ever be interested in. i need something more than battle, and soldiers, and one dimensional characters that you know very little about before they head off into the face of danger. I need some kind of emotional core, and "Days of Glory" attempts to have emotions, but I couldn't give a damn about anybody here. They all could have had their heads blown off and I wouldn't have minded. This is an interesting film to be made because it is very reminiscent of films from the 50's and 40's, but in the end it isn't affecting, and it seemed a little pointless.
"Days of Glory" starts off in 1943, where we begin with the four main men the film will follow being recruited. The first men is Said from Algeria. Said stands there, sad faced and keeping to himself often. He listens to the recruiter with bated breath, and is drawn to everything about the war. The next man is Yassir from Morocco, who lost most of his family to the French, but claims that he is signing up for the war for the money. The next man is Messaoud, an Italian man who tattooed the phrase "No luck" on his chest. Although later on he thinks that he found luck when the soldiers stop in France and he meets a young woman. The final man is Abdelkader, a corporal who is ready to stand up against unequal treatment of the North Africans. All of these men have been recruited, and yet they are fighting for a country that they have never even set foot in: France. And we become involved with the horrors that they find in war-horrors that we've seen before in other(and ultimately better) war stories, as they go off to try and liberate France for the first time.
According to my research, which I didn't know at the time of watching this film, when this appeared at Cannes there was a long debate over if the real men that this film was based on got the credit that they deserved. As a result of this argument in France was a change in government policy which gave foreign soldiers the same amount of money that veterans from France were paid for their troubles. This could make some people think that it was the actual film itself that led to a complete change in French government policies, but it really is just what the film is about. The subject matter of these soldiers came up, and suddenly there was a debate. But in the end this was a still a bad film, even though it led on to a big change. Any film about the topic could have came up and there might have still been a debate. I also can admire "Days of Glory" for telling its tale in the way that old war films would have told them, but I couldn't get any enjoyment out of it. Even the battle scenes-especially the final and lengthy one between the French and the Germans-couldn't get me interested. Perhaps its the war genre when there is obviously no heart. I wasn't a big fan of "Flags of Our Fathers" either, but at least that attempted to have a back story(and a classic Hollywood one at that). Now that it has a reputation, "Days of Glory" will think that it has a place in film history as a groundbreaking achievement, but in the end it really is nothing to write home about. In fact, it doesn't even try to tell something new and different. And I must close this with a comment about the final graveyard scene, told years after the action-also known as the most pointless ending in recent memory. The last living soldier(who it is I refuse to say) walks along the graveyard, giving small tribute to the other three men he knew. By then I was gripping the arm rest hoping for the credits to start. I have a feeling everybody will be.