From the ‘Days of Glory’ to the ‘Battle of Algiers’

A plenty of movies bank on their sequels and series; some succeed and others fail terribly. A few popular and most-watched sequels include the James Bond series (1962–2012), the eight Harry Potters (2001–2011), the Pirates of the Caribbeans (2003–2011), the Star Wars (1977–2008), the trilogy of Godfather (1972–1990) and the Bourne series (2004–2012) and so on.

But there are also movies that are distance apart in every shot, yet they follow a sequence. In nonfictional art is there more of it — as in art imitating life and life, art. There are countless movies, to take an example, based on the World Wars and the Holocaust, that have rock the box office. And we can safely say, despite the movies galore none has been in favour of Nazism. Rightly so.

Source: iMDB
Consider this. There are two movies on Algeria, thematically different but which follow a chronology. The Days of Glory aka Indigènes aka the Natives (2006) is one of the WWII movies, based on the racial discrimination of the North Africans by the arrogant French imperialists. A similar movie, the Battle of Algiers (1966) — which shows elaborately the liberation movement of this North African country against France — is not based on the WWII; rather it is the actual historical sequence of the country after the Days of Glory.

I watched recently the Battle of Algiers, and then the Days of Glory. However, if a sequence is to be made of them, the Days of Glory should come first in the order, if not for the last short scene that depicts the life of a soldier six decades after the war. Both of these movies narrate the Algerians’ triumph and misfortunes, from the 1940s to the early part of the 1960s, its social revolution, its colonial nightmares and legacies plus the ironies of being an occupied country. In a way, the Algerian history goes from the ironical Days of Glory to the triumphant Battle of Algiers; and the wars seemingly never ended in mid-20th century.

Source: iMDB
At the end of the Days of Glory there is an inter-title showing that the Algerian soldiers have been deprived of their pension since 1952 because they are not a part of France now.

The Algerians were fighting in a war, sacrificing their lives to protect the fatherland that had occupied them; and what they get in return was forced amnesia. That’s quite an irony. There are also several instances of injustice and inequality shown in this movie between the white French soldiers and the North African Muslim soldiers.

There’s a scene when two of the Algerian armymen in the Free French Forces chitchatting, one of them whispering that he can go home after the war, with money for his brother’s marriage. An unlikely attitude it is for the men in uniform who have an impeccable record for patriotism. A couple of the most hard-hitting moments are in the concluding parts: first, when a surviving African Corporal is snubbed by a white colonel, categorically ignored and is asked to avail himself in another white NCO when he said all of his men have been killed; and secondly, a cameramen was filming only the white people in a villager, where there had been a heavy gunfight with their common enemy, the Germans, and the corporal's men were killed.

Source: Anonymous ART of Revolution
War is, in any case, a profitable business and nationalism a mere commodity. The greatest beneficiaries of global-scale wars have always been the multinational corporations as is evident in the great American terror of democracy; for example, in their Operation Iraq Liberation in our time.

The Battle of Algiers is a fine movie, which portrays very realistically, the urban guerilla warfare of the natives against the French colonialists during the early years of the Algerian War of Independence (in the 1950s). The fact that it was banned in France for almost a decade shows how in terms of its political incorrectness the movie is made of.

A decade earlier, the Algerians were proudly in the French shoes; and then, they had to fight against the colonialists for self-determination. In this movie, the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) made a classic do-or-die effort, even if they were no match for the well-equipped, overwhelming French forces. Despite the overt sympathy for the guerillas, the movie also shows an impartial perspective, portraying their unacceptable actions in killing the civilians, or simply, the negation of using violent means for their political ends. For that matter, the civilian are always at the receiving end, caught between the sea and the devil; on the left and the top are the French soldiers and the guerillas on their right and the bottom.

There are countless WWII movies made in Holywood and other European countries. But pity that we have not been able to create, from our native place, a single world-class flick — a sequel or not; despite the fact that the battles in Imphal and Kohima, during the WWII, was a watershed in the world history. Well the reasons are not hard to seek in a conflict-ridden, undeveloped region located in a third world country. This is our tragedy. We have seen people going to the moon, creating the most sophisticated supercomputers, and all those artificial and scientific wonders. And us, we are lost in territorial pissing, fighting and killing for land and history, while the best thing we do is to join the exodus to fairer worlds. And watch good movies. And surrender like the Nazis.

Everything is not bleak, though. A production house in Manipur is presently shooting a film (Read: My Japanese Niece) based on the WWII, and an actress from the land of the rising sun is in the lead role.



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