Dramas, French, World War II, Assassination, Nazis, Espionage, Non-U.S. Theatrical Release, France
Army of Shadows Criterion Collection Blu-ray Disc Description
Well-known for his influential crime films (LE SAMOURAI, LE CERCLE ROUGE), director Jean-Pierre Melville explores the lives of French Resistance fighters in his moody World War II masterpiece, ARMY OF SHADOWS. Restrained and controlled, the film follows Philippe Gerbier (Lino Ventura) and other members of the underground as they carry out clandestine missions against Nazi occupiers. And while there are some exciting scenes (air drops, escape attempts), the film largely avoids action-film histrionics. Its tone is a subdued one and tension results from its quiet moments, interrupted by brief, jarring violence. This is appropriate, given the film's subject matter. Silence is the guiding principle of espionage and the film's look--bruised and penumbral--reflects the tenuous position of its characters, who live divided, imperiled existences. There is no glib heroism in ARMY OF SHADOWS; there are only people living through untenable situations, acting as is necessary and sacrificing, perhaps, everything.