Translated into English as Days of Glory, Indigènes is the story of a unit of North African soldiers recruited to help liberate France in the waning days of the Second World War. Sold on the idea that fighting to free la patrie would bring them closer to the ideals of liberté, égalité, fraternité, the natives (indigènes in French) of North Africa give it all in this epic film. Shedding blood for France, however, is not enough to overcome racism and discrimination within the military and the more valiant and competent among the indigènes see promotion after promotion going to the French soldiers.

Written and directed by Rashid Bouchareb, a French director of Algerian descent, Indigènes is the kind of film that makes me wish I taught twentieth-century history just so I could show it to my students.  Both the first and second world wars stirred hope in European colonies around the globe. No doubt many natives of the colonies felt that fighting for freedom alongside their colonizers would open doors for them at home. Such hopes were more often than not quashed at the end of the war, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of many who felt they had given as much, if not more, than the European soldier but received no recognition of their efforts. It’s not surprise the movie come in a period in which France struggles with its inability to accommodate immigrants arriving from its former colonies.

The legacy of the colonized in shaping the internal history of the colonizers is a topic seldom explored. And this film is a good place to start.

A review here.


Author: guerson

Historian. Teacher. Knitter. Passionate for bringing people together and building bridges.

6 thoughts on “Indigènes”

  1. I LOVE this movie (and hate the title in English)! europeans are always so sure that about foreign policies being so much better than american’s (OK, OK, it is hard to “compete” with Bush’s), but not paying what they owe to the algerians – who gave their blood for their freedom – it is one of many examples of how much they still have to do before they can claim to be examples to the world… I’ve finished this movie feeling so damn bloody sad for that people who got SO fooled. You know, I could never write about this movie in my blog because it was SO good, I never felt I could write something that would be close to what it deserves… this is something that happens a lot to me…

    Have a nice week, Alexandra!

    ps.: I will write to you about the Frida Kahlo’s bag as soon as I have a price :-)

  2. Esse é um filme que vale a pena ser usado em classe, eu recomendei pros meus estudantes e quero ver se uso no inverno, porque assisti meio tarde e nao deu pra mostrar. Eu acho que o Marc Ferro fez a consultoria pro filme, a vantagem é que ao contrario dos filmes americanos sobre a 2a guerra, eu acho que esse filme é uma representaçao bastante apurada do papel dos colonos na 2a guerra e um otimo gancho pra trabalhar sobre os movimentos de independência. Beijocas !

  3. Ana Lúcia

    E mostra também a maneira como a história é “construída”. Achei bem sutil e interessante a cena no final, quando os franceses finalmente chegam na cidadezinha que os norte-africanos estavam defendendo e um reporter filma a população posando com os soldados franceses enquanto narra sobre como os soldados franceses foram os primeiros a libertarem Alsace, quando na verdade a coisa foi bem diferente… Muito bom mesmo.

  4. É muito bom, mesmo. E muito triste. Eles nunca tiveram direito a pensões e indenizações como os outros combatantes franceses, porque as colônias se tornaram independentes. Ações judiciais e projetos de lei e muito bafafá depois saiu uma decisão da Justiça dando direito aos soldados das ex-colônias o direito de uma pensão, mas o governo francês da liberté, egalité et fraternité recorreu.

    Acho que mais do que construção da história, é sobre construção da identidade.


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