Watch Army of Shadows
- 2 hr 19 min
Army of Shadows is a French wartime film from 1969. It was directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, who is widely regarded as a master of French noir cinema. The film stars Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and Simone Signoret in the leading roles. Set during the Nazi occupation of France during World War II, Army of Shadows is a story of resistance and betrayal. It follows the exploits of a small group of French Resistance fighters as they carry out a series of daring missions against the occupying German forces. The film explores the themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and the human cost of war. The film opens with the central character, Philippe Gerbier (Lino Ventura), being arrested by the Gestapo in Marseille. He is taken to a concentration camp but manages to escape with the help of a sympathetic guard. He then makes his way to Paris where he meets up with his Resistance colleagues. They are led by the enigmatic Luc Jardie (Paul Meurisse), who is known to everyone in the group only as 'Le Masque' ('The Mask'). Together, Gerbier and his comrades carry out a series of daring missions against the Nazis. They blow up a German train, assassinate a Nazi collaborator, and rescue their comrades from prison. Throughout all of this, they remain constantly vigilant, knowing that at any moment they could be betrayed and captured by the Nazis. The film portrays the Resistance fighters as proud and determined men and women who are willing to risk their lives for their country. But it also shows the human cost of their struggle. We see their fear and doubt as they confront the reality of what they are doing. We see their grief as they mourn the deaths of their friends and comrades. And we see their guilt as they contemplate the atrocities they have committed in the name of the Resistance. Army of Shadows is not a traditional war movie. There are no large-scale battles or heroic charges. Instead, the film is a slow-burning character study that delves deep into the psyche of its protagonists. The acting is superb throughout, particularly from Lino Ventura, who gives an understated but powerful performance as the stoic Gerbier. The film is also notable for its use of images and sound. Director Jean-Pierre Melville employs a stylized, minimalistic approach to his storytelling. He uses long takes and slow pans to capture the tension and uncertainty of life during the war. The film's muted color palette and unobtrusive soundtrack give it a haunting, melancholic atmosphere. Overall, Army of Shadows is a powerful and thought-provoking film that explores the moral complexities of war. It portrays the French Resistance as flawed but heroic individuals who fought for their country in the face of overwhelming odds. The film is a testament to the bravery and sacrifice of those who fought against fascism during World War II.