Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
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.
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.
I've never found war films to be my favourite genre. The action scenes in every film begin to blur together over time and the screaming violence and death get somewhat tiresome with each new depiction. While I never dislike any of them, it's just something I've never related to and thus never sticks with me. Regardless of how much love this films gets, and even after I commented I'd see it, it still took months for me to sit myself down to watch. Well, thankfully, Army of Shadows is an atypical war film in the best possible way and one I can't wait to watch again.
Rather than focusing on bombs going off, widespread mayhem, and a pause in-between to…
I started to really get into Melville's films a few years back, so I'm constantly trying to check in on his filmography (even though I had this one from Netflix for almost four months). This is yet another film that features all the elements that I like about his movies, and some of which I don't. For instance, I adore the way his scenes are put together. There's always a simplicity to the frame but it also embodies so much that it says about the characters and themes. At the same time, I feel like the story in this one is so engulfed by the quasi-espionage setting that I often found myself losing the larger details and struggling to make…
So in awe of how perfectly choreographed some of these scenes were (specifically the one with the throat stabbing...leaving out contextual details here as to no spoil it). So many great set ups and escape routes, narratively and conceptually. The weight of sacrifice is heavy throughout. It really weighs on you, as it should.
An absolutely essential film for its focus on the indignity of occupation. It ain't that the enemy marches down your street with impunity, it's that they turn you into a monster in the bargain then paint you as a terrorist for having the gall to fight back. War as terminal cancer, the body eating itself.
A large majority of Army of Shadows is filmed at dusk, or maybe it's dawn, making it feel like a perpetual fever dream. That must have been a huge technical challenge, but one that's thematically relevant and highly effective. A powerfully existential film of fighting for what you believe in, anonymously, in the face of certain death.
This time he did not run.
This was the second movie I watched during my freshman year of college. I remember it very distinctly. I loved the atmosphere and color palette. Lots of really cool textured grays and blues. The plot is lost away in my memory but the snowfall-suspense still registers!
Το χρονικό της δράσης μιας ομάδας αντιστασιακών στην κατεχόμενη από τους Ναζί Γαλλία.Δεν υπάρχει συγκεκριμένη ραχοκοκαλιά στο σενάριο, παρά διάφορα στιγμιότυπα από τις αποστολές της ομάδας τα οποία εξιστορούνται με εντυπωσιακή λεπτομέρεια από πλευράς χαρακτήρων και ιστορικής ακρίβειας.Η ηθική πάει περίπατο καθώς μόνο το αποτέλεσμα μετράει.Εξαιρετική φωτογραφία.Γενικά πάντως το θέμα γαλλική αντίσταση σηκώνει μεγάλη κουβέντα.Εδώ δεν ηρωοποιείται ούτε στιγμή και θέτει το θέμα μάλλον στις σωστές του βάσεις.
With this unsympathetic view of the French resistance during World War II, Jean-Pierre Melville creates a drama as morally ambiguous as 24, but not nearly as outrageous.
To those in the French Resistance, secrets were the lifeblood of the cause; the leaders of the movement routinely killed those suspected of betrayal with little regard for the legitimacy of the accusation. The highest moral imperative was to keep France from falling completely under the control of the Nazis. Everything else: allegiances, morality, and friendship was subservient.
The movie glorifies the men who risked, and often lost, their lives to protect France from Nazism, but refuses to whitewash their actions. The movie, like the movement, has already decided their actions were justified…
Reading "Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville" is alone enough reason for me to want to see a film. He is my favorite French film maker of all time. And that is truly saying something. 2nd only to the United States in both quality and quantity of films made, the French understand cinema. It has been said that the art of cinema started in France (mostly is it said by Frenchmen).
Melville is considered "The Father of the French New Wave". This is not to say that he worked within that style nor was he bound to the manifesto of the La Nouvelle Vague. He was however a major influence. Similar to Hitchcock in those regards.
Army of Shadows is about a…
Simone Signoret! What a devastating, heartbreaking film.
For five years, film critic Scott Tobias compiled "The New Cult Canon" in a regular column for The A.V. Club…
Combined the average ratings (Critic's & Users) from IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and Letterboxd, and then weighted and tweaked the results…