“Much as I admire Jean-Pierre Melville’s hard-boiled thrillers, I think his best film is L’ARMÉE DES OMBRES, perhaps because it reflects his own experience in the French Resistance during World War II. It’s one of those films where the direction seems effortless but its nail-biting depiction of a dangerous, tragic underground war is gripping from start to finish.”
|Simone Signoret, Lino Ventura
L’ARMÉE DES OMBRES/ARMY OF SHADOWS (1969,145 mins)
“Bad memories, welcome… you are my long lost youth.” Often seen as a transposition of Melville’s beloved gangster genre to the underworld of the Resistance in wartime France, this unbearably moving reverie faithfully adapts Joseph Kessel’s seminal novel to the screen. The film’s dream-like, almost clandestine sense of geography, place and period is matched to the soulful, autumnal mood created by cinematographer Pierre Lhomme. Perhaps the greatest cinematic testament to the lived experience of the French Resistance. Featuring beautifully modulated performances by Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse and Simone Signoret.(Adrian Danks, Co-curator Melbourne Cinémathèque).
Manohla Dargis, New York Times
“…a thrilling story about a handful of French Resistance fighters that also happens to be a masterpiece.”
David Thomson, Have You Seen
It’s a world in which strangers or shadows come together under code names, in which brothers may not know that they follow the same bleak service, and in which you sometimes murder your own people to prevent the risk of their talking. The threat of torture and helpless betrayal, hangs over the whole enterprise, and part of the film’s grip, I find, comes from the certain understanding that even the Paris one loves and admires was once chilled by this terror.
Chris Peachment, Time Out Film Guide
“…the summit of both his own work and his collaboration with the actor Ventura…Melville’s style here has a quite outstanding hallucinatory quality entirely appropriate to its subject of lives and memories that are forced underground for too long.”