The greatest films of all time as voted on by the Criterion subreddit using a ranked top 10 methodology from…
Army of Shadows
Betrayal. Loyalty. Collaboration. Resistance.
Betrayed by an informant, Philippe Gerbier (Lino Ventura) finds himself trapped in a torturous Nazi prison camp. Though Gerbier escapes to rejoin the Resistance in occupied Marseilles, France, and exacts his revenge on the informant, he must continue a quiet, seemingly endless battle against the Nazis in an atmosphere of tension, paranoia and distrust.
"Unhappy memories! Yet I welcome you, for you are my long lost youth.”
It's hard to feel I have anything definitive to say about so monumental a movie on first viewing. The easiest thing to point out about it is the tragedy of its historical circumstances: it was one of Melville's most personal films, as he was himself a fighter in the French Resistance during the Nazi occupation in World War II, but he didn't live to see his film receive the appreciation it deserved. It was panned by the cahiers du cinema and never made it to the U.S. until 2006, at which point Melville had passed and his film had been critically re-evaluated.
The reason for its initial…
It’s been a few days since I’ve watched Melville’s Army of Shadows, and I’ve been haunted. It steals into my thoughts both waking and asleep. I keep being enveloped by a fugue of uncertainty, loneliness, and fear.
Army of Shadows defines heroism. Heroism because you know you can’t win. Heroism because you know you can’t even survive. Heroism because you don’t really have comrades to bolster your bravery and share your fear. You are alone. When you are in the trenches, a bullet can catch you at any moment, but yet you are side by side with your brothers in arms. Here the fear is the hand on your shoulder from behind. Instead of instant death, or a wound you…
Melville conveys what it is like to live in an occupied country with a single scene.
His main character Philippe Gerbier, a renowned French Resistance organizer, is in London for a series of meetings with the British army. While he is taking a stroll in the evening the bombs start falling and the sirens scream. He quickly finds shelter in a doorway, not sure what else to do, and for the first time in the film we see that he is afraid. He tries the door behind him and finds it unlocked. He opens it, walks in, and is astounded by what he sees.
The room is filled with British army men and women, dancing, drinking, talking, having a good…
An ostensibly bleak almost nihilistic air invades the space around the French Resistance as depicted by Melville. He was a member of the covert movement himself so perhaps better positioned than anyone to tell its story. Any notion of romance or satisfaction gained from their activities is not on show here. Melville tells it as an almost futile battle, like scaling a wall that just keeps on growing taller.
Life for these people seemed to exist for passing the baton when the moment was right, just before the current holder took a fall. Everyone involved knew they had limited time to make their mark. Their capture and death was an inevitability. They could only move in the shadows for so…
Melville got almost everything right here. The actors, the colour, theme, pacing and cinematography. What struck me the most is the seemless link between colour and theme. The cover is blue, as is much of the film, but most striking is a world where nothing is black or white accompanied by a grey tone. If bleak has a colour it's that mix of cold blue and grey.
It's one of these movies that you must see for yourself (and Zap won't stop shouting about it either ), and whatever words I scribble won't do it justice. That, and I've just finished watching it and a better review must wait until a rewatch. Not for the short of breath, though, as…
"It's impossible not to be afraid of dying. But I'm too stubborn, too much an animal to believe it. If I don't believe it to the very last moment, the last split second, I'll never die."
This is good. I'm talking The Godfather good. I'm talking Lawrence of Arabia good. I'm talking *insert a classic movie here* good. Everything that I heard previously about this flick was confirmed when watching it. What a movie.
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Recent viewing of Sicario got me thinking about this, Melville’s deft and restrained sensibility towards Philippe’s deconstruction.
Afforded the barest semblance of nobility to begin with, ‘Army of Shadows’ sees Philippe and his committed team of Resistance soldiers face defeat every step of their way – only occasionally physical.
Fresh off from escaping his imprisonment, Philippe is treated to the identity of the informant who betrayed him. In keeping with his dogged, but conditionally misguided philosophy, Philippe proceeds to have him executed. Melville deploys various techniques throughout, opting for intimacy in these earlier scenes, an appropriately concise use of sound and make-up/posture – the barber shop and especially evident during this scene. The barbarism that follows feels inevitable.
Jean pierre melville take on French resistance movement during second world.The story revolves around a small group of Resistance members lead by Philippe Gerbier .Even though the plot may seem similar to that of thriller war movie,Army of shadows is not even close to one .The movie does have some thrilling moments but the focus is more on inner conflicts,the members faces during their fight.There is no reward for there struggle and no one is there to appreciate there efforts as the majority of french population was in favor of German invasion.The movie doesn't follow a typical movie plot either.It's more like a sequence of some important events during a specific period of time .But it does reflect the physical and moral struggle each member had to face .As a former resistance member himself,there is wonder Jean pierre melville used such an approach .The result was this Remarkably wonderful movie.
currently exploring the special features on the 2nd disc of the dvd... more soon, it's loaded!
#The Road to Melville
One thing that I really noticed this time was that Melville never even tries to make any of the Nazis into characters. They barely ever talk and basically are obstacles for our main characters to overcome. I don't think this decision was to avoid humanize them; I think he did that because it is not a story about them. It's about how the war makes humans (in this case it's The Resistance) do terrible things to able to continue the struggle against the oppressor. Also, for a movie that seems so cold, distant and unsentimental, it's incredibly heart-breaking and definitely ranks as one his best.
Solitude, dedication, loyalty - it's simply demonstrated but with so much nuance that the film is breathtakingly brilliant. It feels like it should be a slow film but it's not - it's moving forward, always engaging the viewer. It doesn't glamorize the Resistance it shows the gritty reality - the difficult choices - the single minded dedication it requires in order to have any meaningful impact.
Again I find Melville isn't afraid of a quiet moment that allows you to take it all in - to enjoy the filmmaking - which never feels intrusive. It never feels overly cinematic - it's gritty but there are perfect shots all over the place.
The film is a thriller - with tension everywhere…
True to its name, the characters remain mysterious in Army of Shadows, with the tension of each situation driving the scene. While it is technically a war film, it feels much more like a gangster movie due to the minor nature of the film's scope. The cinematography is bleak yet not messy, and the performances are lethargic but not lacking intensity. Although the movie tends to be anti-government, the politics of the "us vs. them" mentality comes second to the focus on rescues and escapes. The film can certainly be a very overwhelming expecting, but it is also a very engaging one.
ναι μου άρεσε περισσότερο από το le samourai και ναι θα μου άρεσε λιγότερο αν δεν το έβλεπα στην ίριδα.
Combined the average ratings (Critic's & Users) from IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and Letterboxd, and then weighted and tweaked the results…