8.2/10
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Army of Shadows (1969)

L'armée des ombres (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, War | 12 September 1969 (France)
An account of underground resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied France.

Writers:

(novel), (adaptation)

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4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
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
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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

Taglines:

Betrayal. Loyalty. Collaboration. Resistance.

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

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| (2006 restoration)

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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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 end, it says "dimanche 23 février 1943" (Sunday, 23rd February, 1943) even though it was a Tuesday. See more »

Quotes

Claude Ullmann dit 'Le Masque': Still thinking about the others?
[who, like him, were targets in the shooting gallery]
Claude Ullmann dit 'Le Masque': .
Philippe Gerbier: No, I was thinking of the officer who was sure I'd run too. Like a scared rabbit...
See more »

Connections

Featured in Mémoires pour Simone (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

La Planque
Written and Performed by Orchestre Éric Demarsan
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Could Have Been Called "Army of the Dead"
3 April 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Jean-Pierre Melville's "Army of Shadows" is a sombre film about the French Resistance during WWII. It's yet one more movie that makes me feel like I have a terrible grasp of history, as I knew virtually nothing about the movement before seeing this. Melville himself was a member of the Resistance, so I can only assume that his film is fairly accurate. It's powerful, but not obviously so. It doesn't inspire tremendous reactions or emotions while viewing it, but it gets in your head and stays there.

The film is lacking any of that championing of the underdog spirit that infuses so many other stories about scrappy groups resisting the tyranny of the powerful. The members of the French Resistance in this film live like unearthly beings, skittering from one shadowy doorway to another, trying to erase any sign of themselves. The movie suggests that this need for non-existence bleeds into their psychology as well -- the film's main character becomes nearly inhuman in his devotion to the cause and his ability to ruthlessly do away with colleagues when there's a chance that one of them might jeopardize the others. He's not inhuman, but he must do inhuman things, because the desperation of his and his comrades' situations calls for it.

The Criterion Collection's print of the film looks terrific, or at least as terrific as the film's dreary pallet of grey and brown will allow. Melville gives the film an authentic look -- only some scenes set in the London blitz and on an aircraft carrier have a studio set look to them.

A shot of the Arc di Triomphe both opens and closes the film: a symbol of the France that would eventually emerge from the dark days of WWII, or an ironic jab at a country that can't take much credit for fighting off the tyranny of fascism?

Grade: A


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