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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

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 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

Referenced in Reservoir Dogs (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Symphony No. 41 (Jupiter)
(uncredited)
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A masterpiece by the book
12 July 2004 | by (Lomé) – See all my reviews

Never before (and after) a movie on French Resistance has been so "glamourless". Jean-Pierre Melville has been hailed as the father of the French gangster film. Certainly, his gangster films are probably the films for which he is best known (Le Doulos, Deuxieme Soufflé, Le Samourai, Le cercle rouge, Bob le flambeur) on par if not better than anything which Hollywood produced. Yet the world of the anonymous gun-toting hoodlum occupies only a part of his oeuvre.

'L'armee des ombres' (aka The Shadow Army) is Jean Pierre Melville 1969 masterpiece and does not deal with gangsters. The film is a mix of the director's war time experiences in the French Resistance and Joseph Kessel successful wartime novel. What is remarkable about this film is that Melville turned a mosaic of anecdotes that Kessel's novel is all about into a great, dark epic.

From the chilling opening shot of Germans marching down the Champs-Elysées to the final scene involving the fellow Resistant Mathilde (the great Simone Signoret) the film seems to demonstrate that fighting for an ideal often leads towards death and solitude. What Melville does successfully is to show those dead-ends the way they occur to their protagonist (very simply and minimalist), however more than showing them Mr. Melville managed to make these realities (death and solitude) an equally tragic experienced for the audience...

'L'armee des ombres' is Melville's most moving film, a monument to the spirit of the Resistance rather than its actuality. A poignant drama with a strong performance from not only Lino Ventura but also Simone Signoret, Paul Meurisse, Jean Pierre Cassel, Claude Mann, Paul Crauchet to name a few.

This is probably Melville's greatest cinematographic achievement and, when fiction becomes reality, when actors leave behind their egos to resurrect into heroes, when the colors of the film mirror the one of the soul and when silence becomes music, true cinema has been achieved… 'L'armee des ombres' is a terrible yet powerful experience in which the words duty, courage, abnegation get charged with meaning…


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