Review in a Hurry: A tribute to North Africans who helped liberate the French homeland in WWII, Glory commands attention and respect, even if it's occasionally more educational than involving.

The Bigger Picture: This World War II drama stormed Southern France to claim the Best Actor prize (shared by the leads) at last year's Cannes Film Festival. Crossing the pond, the pic has picked up an Oscar nom for Best Foreign-Language Film and now sets out to conquer U.S. art houses. With its strong cast, striking photography, and unique perspective on the war, Glory should win many more admirers.

Based on the true story of "forgotten heroes," the film focuses on young North Africans who enlist in the French Army—along with 130,000 other "indigenous soldiers"—despite never having visited the motherland. Though they're fighting for the same cause, these mostly Muslim recruits receive less than equal treatment from their French superiors. They're subjected to humiliation, refused the same rations, etc. So much for liberté, égalité, and fraternité!

The terrific ensemble cast bring full dimension to their characters even when the script fails to do so. The film would have benefited from delving deeper into the soldiers' backgrounds and relationships—and exploring their allegiance to a country that so easily dismissed them.

Director Rachid Bouchareb makes wonderful use of widescreen, especially during the tense climactic showdown, as a few survivors defend an Alsatian village against nasty Nazis. But he almost undermines that emotional impact with an unnecessary graveside epilogue too reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan.

Still, Vive la Glory! for trumpeting these "heroes that history forgot." And Vive la France! for finally reinstating and increasing veterans' pensions after viewing this important film.

The 180—a Second Opinion: If you must déteste this movie, put it on a triple feature with Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. You'll be crying for surrender and negotiating a moratorium on award-worthy WWII movies—at least until you've had time to recover from these.

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share