Army of Shadows

L'Armée des ombres

Jean-Pierre MelvilleFrance / Italy145 minutes1969PGColourFrench

Jun 30
Jul 30
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Re-released in 2006 to rave reviews ("For the first, and maybe the only, time this year, you are in the hands of a master," declared Anthony Lane in The New Yorker), Melville's tense, gripping tale of honour and betrayal in the clandestine world of the French Resistance was selected by Melville authority Chris Peachment as one of the ten greatest films in the history of cinema. Flinty Lino Ventura plays Philippe Gerbier, a Resistance leader who escapes from the Gestapo and goes after the turncoats who betrayed his cadre; Simone Signoret brings fatalistic fatigue to her role as one of Gerbier's operatives, whose love for her daughter is eventually turned against her. Melville, who worked for the Resistance during the war, called the Joseph Kessel novel on which the film is based "the greatest and most comprehensive document about this tragic period in the history of humanity," and the director does it full justice, giving Army of Shadows a clenched, existential tone, a steely visual design and an epic sense of gravity.