Indigenes

Director: Rachid Bouchareb, Main Cast: Samy NaceriRoschdy ZemSami BouajilaJamel Debbouze

It is not widely known that, during World War II, France enlisted soldiers from its colonies in North and Central Africa to fight against the Nazis. The film tells the tale of four men from Algeria and Morocco who volunteer (or are volunteered? not exactly clear) in 1943 and found themselves part of the war machine, where they experience discrimination and racism from French officers in addition to the horrors of being on the front line. We follow them as they campaign first in Italy and then in France. Treated more as cannon fodder than as proper soldiers, they are denied simple rights (food rations, leave, promotions) that “regular” French soldiers have. The characters have different reactions due mostly to their disparate background. The most vocal about his rights is the corporal, sort of the “intellectual” and leader of the group. Being a European war movie I wasn’t expecting a happy ending and I was right, even the survivor doesn’t get one. It just makes the message more powerful. The pace is a little slow at some points but it’s a venial sin. The cast is not only well chosen but delivers a very touching and engaging performance. Stirring and captivating. —7/10

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