25 May 2011

Indigènes / Days of Glory review

One of my friends just jumped onto the FoW Early War with the rest of us and is going to play Early War French. So I checked the army lists and saw the colonial troops which in my opinion are the best French infantry in the book (Fearless Trained). At the same time the Monte Cassino sourcebook which is about to be released includes the Goumiers so I thought it could be a good time to bring up a small budget French WW2 movie about the colonial troops fighting for France during the war.

The movie "Indigènes", (translates to natives), or the English crap title "Days of Glory" is a really good war movie with a focus on a pretty non-mainstream subject. It starts out in 1943 in Algeria and we see how the locals in a town enlist in order to "free France" as one village elder puts it.
Right off the bat we see how these colonial troops are treated like shit by most of the French brass, even as these troops try to find some pride in serving the French army they are getting poor training, poor equipment, officers scowl at them, they are used as cannon fodder and denied the same rights that the regular French troops receive.

They try not to be beat down and still have their hopes and expectations on what to do with themselves after the war having served in the French army. The main cast is made up of 4 soldiers, and the actors do a superb job conveying the frustration these troops might have suffered. They are assigned a French sergeant that despises them but at the same time cares enough to try to keep them alive - especially looking out for one of the main cast characters which only have one arm. So the movie chronicles the combat experience of these troops from their enlistment through the battles in Italy to the end of the campaign in France, and includes a couple of well done action sequences. Though the movie is not as combat heavy as your typical Hollywood production it is interesting to see the war from a different perspective.

I think the movie could be used as inspiration for anyone collecting these colonial troops regardless of scale or game system. Reading about them is quite abstract, watching on a movie gives you a better idea of what you're working with.

The reasons behind the making of this movie were political, since the colonial troops were treated like shit twice over. First they were treated badly during the war, and after the war they lost their veteran pensions as their countries gained independence from France. The movie was mainly made to remind the French public about these forgotten soldiers. I don't thikn the movie gets overly sentimental over this but rather presents things from a historical perspective.

Anyways, I can really recommend this movie whether you're a wargamer or just interested in WW2.


  1. "I don't think the movie gets overly sentimental over this but rather presents things from a historical perspective."

    Actually, it doesn't, It present things from a modern political stance with little historical truth, This movie was shot down for it by Historians.

  2. It may have had a modern agenda - to get the veteran pensions rolling again - but you can't claim that the colonial troops were treated as equals in the French army.

  3. Anatoli, it is very possible you enjoyed this movie but don't take it for face value. With a little research you will find out why it is pernicious.

  4. Reading the topic on The Miniature Page make it look as if I opened a can of worms. Anyway I think it depends on how one interprets the purpose of the movie.

    This movie to me is about:

    1) Making people aware of the colonial troops

    2) Depicting how they were treated

    3) Make a point of how they were forgotten or obscured by history.

    Some answers in the TMP threads on this movie suggested that it tried to show that France would be doomed without the help of its colonial troops and such - I don't think that myself.

    I simply watched it and saw a new perspective, like Letters to Iwo Jima, Brotherhoof of War and No Man's Land.

  5. not to revive a dead horse but "2) Depicting how they were treated" is precisely one of the point a few educated people don't feel comfortable about, not that France is exemplary on other topics, far from it...

    (sorry, Anatoli, I do read your blog regularly :-) )

  6. Haha no problem Braxen, I rather have a discussion whether someone agrees or not on something I posted than response at all!

    Thanks for taking the time to post comments :-)


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