1941 in a small town in Nazi occupied France. Against the will of its elderly male and his adult niece residents, the Nazis commandeer a house for one of their officers, Lt. Werner von ... See full summary »
A French UN delegate has disappeared into thin air, sending reporter Moreau (Jean-Pierre Melville) and hard drinking photographer Delmas (Pierre Grasset) on an assignment to find him. Their only lead is a picture of three women.
France, 1942, under German occupation. Philippe Gerbier, a civil engineer, is a French Resistance commandant. Denounced by a French collaborator, he is interned in a concentration camp. He manages to escape, and rejoins his network in Marseille, where he has the traitor executed. This movie reveals rigorously and austerely what life was like in the French Resistance: the solitude and fear of its members; their relationships with one another; the constant threat of arrest by the Gestapo; the Resistance command structure and the way its orders were carried out. Head writer Joseph Kessel and co-writer/director Jean-Pierre Melville were both veterans of the "Shadow Army".Written by
This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #385. See more »
The submarine used in the film is a French Navy's Aréthuse-class submarine, Argonaute (S636) (even the number and name visible during boarding scene). It was launched on 23 October 1958 which is more than 15 years after the events that take place in the film. See more »
"L'Armée des ombres" (1969) was shown in the U.S as "Army of Shadows." The film is co-written and directed by Jean-Pierre Melville.
The time is 1942 and the setting is France. Lino Ventura plays Philippe Gerbier, a high-ranking officer in the French resistance. Gerbier is intelligent, resourceful, and brave. He and his small band of urban fighters are constantly in danger of capture and torture by the Nazis. This isn't a film of rural partisans--it's a film where people meet in cafés and offices. No one knows when Nazi soldiers or Gestapo will sweep down and drag them off. No meeting is safe, and no relationship is safe either--how many people can remain silent under savage tortures that go on for days?
Although Ventura is excellent in the role, the movie is dominated by Simone Signoret as Mathilde--tougher and braver than any of the men, but possessing one terrible weakness.
This movie is different than most films about the French Resistance. Things don't go smoothly, they don't go well, fear is everywhere, and heroism often takes place in a prison cell where no one ever learns of it. It's fascinating, but grim.
"Army of Shadows" is a neglected film by a great director. It's definitely worth seeking out.
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