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The Army of Shadows (1969)
"L'armée des ombres" (original title)

 -  Drama | War  -  12 September 1969 (France)
8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 12,403 users   Metascore: 99/100
Reviews: 78 user | 113 critic | 24 from Metacritic.com

A account of underground resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied France.

Writers:

(novel), (adaptation)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Paul Meurisse ...
...
Jean François Jardie
...
Claude Mann ...
Claude Ullmann dit 'Le Masque'
...
Felix Lepercq
Christian Barbier ...
Guillaume Vermersch dit 'Le Bison'
...
The hairdresser
André Dewavrin ...
Alain Dekok ...
Legrain
Alain Mottet ...
Commander of the camp
Alain Libolt ...
Paul Dounat
Jean-Marie Robain ...
Baron de Ferte Talloire
Albert Michel ...
Gendarm
Denis Sadier ...
Gestapo's doctor
Edit

Storyline

France, 1942, during the occupation. Philippe Gerbier, a civil engineer, is one of the French Resistance's chiefs. Given away by a traitor, he is interned in a camp. He manages to escape, and joins his network at Marseilles, where he makes the traitor be executed... This non-spectacular movie (do not expect any Rambo or Robin Hood) shows us rigorously and austerely the everyday of the French Resistants : their solitude, their fears, their relationships, the arrests, the forwarding of orders and their carrying out... Both writer Joseph Kessel and co-writer and director Jean-Pierre Melville belonged to this "Army in the Shadows". Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

|

Language:

| |

Release Date:

12 September 1969 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Army of Shadows  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$12,620 (USA) (28 April 2006)

Gross:

$741,733 (USA) (20 April 2007)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

| (2006 restoration)

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For the shot depicting German soldiers marching down the Champs Elysees, Jean-Pierre Melville thought that it would be impossible to get regular Frenchmen to provide the proper marching movements. He ended up casting dancers to correctly provide the march steps he wanted from the soldiers. This shot was originally the last in the film and prints were sent to theaters with it in that place. After the first showings, Melville decided the scene was better placed at the start of the film and it was physically spliced into the new position. This apparently resulted in several missing frames in the negative. These frames were restored from another source when the 2005 digital restoration was accomplished. See more »

Goofs

In the scene where the prisoners share cigarettes amongst each other, one of the man saves his cigarette for later and puts it behind his right ear. In the next shot of him, the cigarette isn't there, but we see him picking it from behind his ear just a few seconds later. See more »

Quotes

Philippe Gerbier: See you later, Comrade.
Legrain: ...You're a communist?
Philippe Gerbier: No. But I can still have comrades.
See more »

Connections

Featured in A Private Affair (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Stompin' at the Savoy
(uncredited)
Music by Edgar M. Sampson
Played at the serviceman's club in London
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Melville's Powerful Epic
2 May 2006 | by (Stony Brook, NY) – See all my reviews

This is a tough, somber film that captures the absurdities involved in war, and, ultimately, in life. The French Resistance "heroes" in the story are never shown conducting sabotage or planned attacks against the Germans, as one would get in a traditional World War II movie. Instead, we follow their claustrophobic and paranoid lives as they move from one hiding place to another (or one prison to another), constantly hounded by those in power, haunted by their own actions and the inability to communicate with those dear to them. Melville shows us their doubts and questions as they deal with betrayal, cowardice, and the murky ethics of killing their own to preserve the larger good.

Every episode in the film seems to lead to a darkly ironic conclusion, and the meaninglessness of their efforts becomes almost overwhelming, except that, somehow, these ordinary people continue to offer resistance in the face of death, so that their heroism lies not in the ability to stop the Germans but in taking action at all while facing the abyss.

While the acting is excellent all around, Lino Ventura's performance as Gerbier deserves special attention. It's hard to imagine any other actor bearing the tremendous weight of this film as well as he does. Gabin, at an earlier age, might have had the physical and emotional strength, but I'm not sure he would've been capable of Ventura's unassuming portrayal, which is so necessary for his character. The "shadows" at the core of this tale are seriously dark, and Ventura's Gerbier is strong enough to face them, yet modest enough to realize he can't conquer them on his own. The only way the Resistance makes sense by the end of this film, is in the collective effort of its members. Similarly, each of us, individually, cannot conquer death, but we as a group of human beings can continue to live on. _L'Armée des ombres_ ultimately moves beyond a story of the French Resistance in World War II and serves as a powerful existentialist epic, with Ventura's performance responsible for much of the film's dignity and humanity.

As with _Léon Morin, prêtre_ (1961), another story set during the war, Melville seems more emotionally present in _L'Armée des ombres_ than he does in his policiers or noir pieces, and after seeing the film, his overall body of work suddenly seems much heftier. While the movie isn't as visually daring of some of his other works, it has a dark beauty all its own, and his pacing, editing, shot selection, and use of sound show him in great artistic control. Forty-eight hours after seeing it, I still find myself caught in its world.


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what a way to spend a resistance vramesh
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