Criterion Collection: Army of Shadows

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Overview

In this war drama set during the French Resistance of WW II, a courageous fighter escapes Gestapo headquarters and returns to Marseille. There he and his group capture a traitor and throttle him. They then try to rescue a Resistance fighter in Lyons. As they do so, the hero is again captured and his partner killed. Again the hero escapes just before he is executed. He then finds that a female partner has been captured. To avoid having her daughter forced to work in a Nazi brothel, the woman has informed upon the ...
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Overview

In this war drama set during the French Resistance of WW II, a courageous fighter escapes Gestapo headquarters and returns to Marseille. There he and his group capture a traitor and throttle him. They then try to rescue a Resistance fighter in Lyons. As they do so, the hero is again captured and his partner killed. Again the hero escapes just before he is executed. He then finds that a female partner has been captured. To avoid having her daughter forced to work in a Nazi brothel, the woman has informed upon the othersl she is then released and subsequently killed by another Resistance fighter for revenge. The screenplay is based on Joseph Kessel's novel and became filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville's magnum opus.
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Special Features

New high-definition digital transfer of the 2004 restoration, supervised by director of photography Pierre Lhomme; Optional Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 soundtrack; Audio commentary by film historian Ginette Vincendeau; New interviews with Lhomme and editor Françoise Bonnot; Archival video excerpts, including on-set footage and interviews with Melville, cast members, writer Joseph Kessel, and real-life Resistance fighters; Jean-Pierre Melville et "L'armée des ombres" (2005), a short program on the director and his film; Le journal de la Résistance (1944), a rare short documentary shot on the front lines of the final days of German-occupied France; Film restoration demonstration by Lhomme; A booklet featuring critic Amy Taubin, historian Robert O. Paxton, and excerpts from Rui Nogueira's Melville on Melville
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Audiences coming to Jean-Pierre Melville's Army Of Shadows with the expectation of typical war movie action, suspense, and heroics will be in for a disappointment -- though they may also be pleasantly surprised and downright enlightened by what they do find in place of those attributes. It is, to be sure, one of the finest movies ever made about war -- and specifically World War II, and especially about the role in which France found itself cast -- from the civilian point-of-view, and perhaps the best movie ever made about the wartime resistance movement in France. But its very accuracy and understated realism will probably surprise and disappoint audiences raised on the notions of such movies put forth by Hollywood. This is principally because the movie's focus is on the psychological aspects of that underground war, and mostly the film's mood is one of isolation and caution, while its tone is somber and dark. And considering the ominous tone over much of what we see -- and death does appear on screen here, quickly and brutally when it comes, even when it is referred to -- we also see surprisingly little of the enemy for much of the movie. Melville (who was involved with the resistance during the war) understood that the reality of such underground work was that one didn't have any more contact with the enemy than was absolutely necessary. It's all a far cry from the heroics and bold statements of patriotism that one usually expects in movies on this subject, but the resulting tension results in an engrossing, often spellbinding cinematic experience across 140 minutes of screen time -- this reviewer (who never has the time for such indulgences) went back to see it three more times. As to the cast, Lino Ventura gives the performance of a lifetime as the operational head of a highly effective resistance cell, and his work is matched by the entire cast, which includes Simone Signoret, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel (in an unusual and highly effective dramatic performance), Christian Barbier and Jean-Marie Robain, all doing extraordinary work. Ironically, for all of its many cinematic virtues, Army of Shadows was totally neglected in France when it opened in 1969 -- the French had just come off of two years of political strife growing out of a massive student strike, which seemed to render the events of the Second World War very distant in most people's minds, and Charles De Gaulle, the French leader and political figure most closely associated with the war, had just stepped down as president at the time. Additionally, the movie was overlooked entirely in the United States. Indeed, it wasn't even seen until 2006, following extensive restoration to replace worn and faded source materials, when it opened for what ended up being a three-month sell-out run at New York's Film Forum, an occasion for it was greeted by many US critics -- with no loss of irony -- as one of the best movies of the year.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/15/2007
  • UPC: 715515023726
  • Original Release: 1969
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: 1
  • Time: 2:25:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Lino Ventura Gerbier
Paul Meurisse Luc
Jean-Pierre Cassel Jean-Francois
Simone Signoret Mathilde
Serge Reggiani Barber
Claude Mann Le Masque
Christian Barbier Le Bison
Alain Libolt Dounat
Paul Crauchet Felix
Alain Mottet Commander of the camp
Jean-Marie Robain Baron de Ferte-Talloire
Albert Michel Gendarm
Georges Sellier Colonel Jarret
Marco Perrin Octave Bonnafous
Hubert DeLapparent Aubert
Jeanne Perez
Alain Dekock Legrain
Technical Credits
Jean-Pierre Melville Director, Screenwriter
Colette Baudot Costumes/Costume Designer
Françoise Bonnot Editor
Jacques Carrere Sound/Sound Designer
Eric De Marsan Score Composer
Jacques Dorfmann Producer
Pierre Lhomme Cinematographer
Théo Meurisse Art Director, Production Designer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- L'Armée des Ombres - The Film
1. Opening [2:34]
2. Gerbier [4:43]
3. Internment [3:26]
4. Comrade [6:22]
5. Gestapo [4:05]
6. Hôtel Majestic [5:06]
7. Quick Shave [3:06]
8. Job in Marseilles [4:32]
9. Traitor [7:49]
10. Jean-François [3:11]
11. Talent Agency in Lyon [2:13]
12. Special Delivery [4:41]
13. Saint Luc and Little Jean [3:36]
14. Midnight Passage [6:37]
15. London [6:20]
16. News of Félix [3:33]
17. Parachute Drop [7:18]
18. Disguises and Hideouts [6:03]
19. Rescue Preparations [7:34]
20. Denounced [2:30]
21. Transport for Félix [11:36]
22. "You Better Lie Now" [2:09]
23. Certain Death [12:58]
24. Isolation [5:12]
25. News of Mathilde [11:13]
26. "Nothing's Sacred Anymore" [6:32]
1. Melville's Resistance [2:34]
2. Political Mise-en-Scène [4:43]
3. Affair of Real Men [3:26]
4. Kessel's Book [6:22]
5. "A Sublime Thriller" [4:05]
6. L'Heure Allemande [5:06]
7. Serge Regianni [3:06]
8. Anti-Is Paris Burning? [4:32]
9. Ventura and Melville [7:49]
10. Jean-Pierre Cassel [3:11]
11. Entertainers During the Occupation [2:13]
12. Signoret's Second Phase [4:41]
13. Mobility, Food, and Warmth [3:36]
14. "Gaullist Film Art" [6:37]
15. Britain and the Resistance [6:20]
16. Félix's Hat [3:33]
17. The RAF [7:18]
18. Aristocracy [6:03]
19. Practice of Denunciation [7:34]
20. Butcher of Lyon [2:30]
21. Tour de Force Scene [11:36]
22. The Milice [2:09]
23. Gerbier's Internal Debate [12:58]
24. Melville's Existentialism [5:12]
25. Creatures of the Night [11:13]
26. Ambivalence [6:32]
Disc #2 -- L'Armée des Ombres - The Supplements
1. Rediscovering the Film [2:00]
2. Earning Melville's Respect [1:45]
3. A Low-Budget Mentality [5:24]
4. Cool Tones and Darkness [3:02]
5. Respect for the Audience [1:25]
1. Shooting the Film [5:39]
2. "It's My Youth" [4:04]
3. Melville and His Actors [6:43]
4. Joseph Kessel [4:28]
5. Passy and the Resistance [9:20]
1. Sunglasses and a Stetson Hat [5:46]
2. His Tribute to the Resistance [6:13]
3. Ventura and Melville [4:22]
4. Melville and Signoret [3:12]
5. The Cinephile [2:45]
6. Political Preference [5:12]
1. "Liberation Is at Hand" [5:15]
2. Hôtel de Ville, a Stronghold [5:17]
3. "The Barricades, the Barricades" [2:18]
4. "Business of Cleaning Up the City" [5:18]
5. Reinforcements Arrive [3:38]
6. "A Strange Picture Indeed" [4:24]
7. De Gaulle's Return [7:55]
1. Henri Frenay [3:28]
2. Martinet's Print Shop [4:52]
3. "Orders" From London [4:46]
4. De Gaulle's Control [10:12]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- L'Armée des Ombres - The Film
   Play the Movie
   Chapters
   Color Bars
   Commentary
      Commentary: Off
      Commentary: On
      Index
      Color Bars
   Trailers
      Original
      U.S. Premiere
   Setup
      Subtitles
         Subtitles: On
         Subtitles: Off
      Audio Options
         Dolby Digital Mono 1.0
         Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0
Disc #2 -- L'Armée des Ombres - The Supplements
   "Jean-Pierre Melville, Filmmaker"
      Play
   Pierre Lhomme
      Play
      Index
      Restoration
      Gallery
   Françoise Bonnot
      Play
   L'Invité du Dimanche
      Play
      Index
   Melville et "L'Armée des Ombres"
      Play
      Index
   The Resistance
      Le Journal de la Résistance
         Play
         Index
      Simone Signoret and Lucie Aubrac
         Play
      Ouvrez les Guillemets
         Play
         Index
   Subtitles
      Subtitles: On
      Subtitles: Off
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Fascinating World War II Thriller

    Melville's beautifully stark and moody compositions highlight this World War II tragedy involving a group of French underground resistance fighters who must eliminate each other in order to keep their secrecy organization in tact. I could quibble about laughably low production value in some instances but Melville's powerful vision (based on first-hand experience, apparently) overcomes such minor considerations. This film came on the heels of three very good gangster films by the director during the mid to late 60s and much of that noir-esque style is employed here to marvellous effect. In all, it's a compelling and ultimately heartbreaking experience.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Very well fimed World War 2 movie, about The French Underground.

    Gripping, what they had to do, to complete there mission.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted July 21, 2011

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    Posted March 20, 2011

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    Posted July 30, 2009

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    Posted December 25, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews