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

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, War  |  12 September 1969 (France)
8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 13,251 users   Metascore: 99/100
Reviews: 84 user | 114 critic | 24 from Metacritic.com

An 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

During the shooting of this film, Lino Ventura and the director Jean-Pierre Melville did not speak to each other. They only communicated through assistants. 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 Broken English (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Stompin' at the Savoy
(uncredited)
Music by Edgar M. Sampson aslo co-credited to Benny Goodman and Chick Webb
Played at the serviceman's club in London
See more »

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User Reviews

 
aside from his later crime films, this is Melville at his best, and usual challenging self
7 May 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Jean Pierre Melville, writer/director of Army of Shadows, has said in interviews that the book of which he based his movie from is considered THE book on the French resistance in the second world war. While I can only speculate as to this film being THE film of its category, as I've yet to see other films on the resistance, it sets quite a high standard for painting a very calculated, perfectly cool (or cold on your POV) piece of film-making on the subject.

It's basically as if Melville, having lived through the period- this being perhaps an even more personal film than his other crime films- still takes on some of the true knacks of what he does in the rest of his oeuvre. Taking characters who go by codes of loyalty, professional as can be, and in a true underground in society. However this time their opponent being the Germans instead of the police the stakes are raised. Even as a couple of parts in the middle seem to shake with the deliberate pace Melville sets a couple of times, the main core of the story and the characters is remarkable, and honest in a dark, bleak way.

Lino Ventura is at his best as Gerbier, a main man in the French resistance movement, who gets more involved in the proceedings following a brief prison-camp stint (the escape from which is one of the most daring in any film). The film is fairly episodic, however encompassing a group of the resistance people, including Mathilde (Simon Signet, very good as always), Le Masque (Claude Mann), and Jean-Francois (Jean-Pierre Cassel, at a peak as well in his own way).

Some of their operations are simple, like retrieving weapons or finding more support through certain channels. Though here and there some payback is in due to the traitors. This becomes a higher issue as the film rolls into its final act, as alliances come into question, and the real ties of humanity together are tested in the midst of the German occupation.

As usual with Melville all of this is told, in its own way, fairly simply- almost clinically- by Melville's camera. There are some zooms here and there, some very intense camera positions (though not awkwardly), and exciting when need be. At the same time, there are some scenes like a short scene on a beach (all blue) or a few others at night or in different lighting modes that are the best Melville's done in the midst of a color scheme used perfectly to correspond with the mood; it works just as well if not better than how he uses it for his crime films.

But one of the pleasures of seeing a film like this by a real kind of maverick of European cinema is seeing how much room he gives for his actors. These are not performances that become over-sensational in the slightest. On the contrary, what adds sometimes to the tension in some of the scenes, or the outright tragedy, is how the actors just play as they do professional-wise, sometimes with what's not said meaning more (and how the Melville gets these quiet moments is fantastic). Featuring a superlative musical accompaniment by Eric De Marsan, this is one of the best directed anti-war films ever made.


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