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February 11, 2007
San Jose Camera Cinema Club
France / Morocco / Algeria / Belgium
French / Arabic
120 Minutes

The True Story Of World War II's Forgotten Heroes.

Absolutely fantastic story of a little-known part of World War II. Algeria and Morocco, which were French colonies during the war, sent groups of soldiers into Italy and Germany and France to fight the Nazis. They were all Muslim, spoke both Arabic and French, and were fighting for a "fatherland" they had never been to. Indeed most of them had relatives who had been killed by the French nation they were now being asked to risk their lives for. Some characters saw this as an opportunity to prove themselves, to move out of their village, while others thought that they should fight for the glory of France.

They are respected by townsfolks, but most definitely not by the French troops who are given better food and privileges. They pray to Mecca, they are called names by the Christian French troops. They are kept in segregated battalions. There are sub-saharan troops as well who go through even worse bigotry.

There is shocking nonchalance in a French woman seducing one of these soldiers just like she would a Frenchman or liberating American.

But mostly, it's about war. Soldiers from the Sahara desert find themselves in the snowy Italian alps. The closest American story to this is probably GLORY, but even then the soldiers weren't a colonized people. Perhaps there is a story about Hawaiians who fought the Spanish in the Spanish-American War.

Fantastic and worthy as a nominee for the Foreign Language Oscar.

8.2 Metacritic
8.5 Rotten Tomatoes



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