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Army of Shadows (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (1969)

Lino Ventura , Paul Meurisse , Jean-Pierre Melville  |  Unrated |  Blu-ray
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)

Price: $59.89 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Simone Signoret, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Claude Mann
  • Directors: Jean-Pierre Melville
  • Format: Blu-ray, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: January 11, 2011
  • Run Time: 145 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0047P5FSQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,523 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Army of Shadows (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Special Features

  • High-definition digital transfer of the 2004 restoration
  • Optional DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
  • Audio commentary featuring film historian Ginette Vincendeau
  • Interviews with Lhomme and editor Francoise Bonnot
  • On-set footage and excerpts from archival interviews
  • Jean-Pierre Melville et "L'armee des ombres" (2002)
  • Le journal de la Resistance (1944), a rare short documentary
  • Film restoration demonstration by Lhomme
  • Theatrical trailers
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critic Amy Taubin

  • Editorial Reviews

    This masterpiece by Jean-Pierre Melville (Le doulos, Le cercle rouge) about the French Resistance went unreleased in the United States for thirty-seven years, until its triumphant theatrical debut in 2006. Atmospheric and gripping, Army of Shadows is Melville’s most personal film, featuring Lino Ventura (Le deuxième souffle), Paul Meurisse (Diabolique), Jean-Pierre Cassel (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie), and the incomparable Simone Signoret (Casque d’or, Diabolique) as intrepid underground fighters who must grapple with their conception of honor in their battle against Hitler’s regime.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    76 of 83 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Long Overdue Release of a French Classic May 15, 2007
    Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
    Many thanks to Criterion for bringing yet another forgotten foreign classic to a U.S. audience on DVD. "Army of Shadows" is one of the most underrated and magnificently shot films ever made about the French experience in World War II, and was a marked departure for director Jean Pierre Melville, who built his reputation on crime-themed noirs such as "Le Samourai," "Un Flic," and "Le Doulos." For my money, this was his best film, and also his most personal statement: He was involved in the French Resistance himself, and he knew that most of war is not about the pageantry, gallantry, and heroism depicted in so many flagwaving epics. Instead, Melville attempts a more honest portrayal of people who were afraid, on the run, unable to trust anyone, physically and emotionally exhausted, and all too familiar with the painful task of killing their own as well as the enemy. The result is a film in which the filmmaker's feelings are as evident and moving as his cinematic technique is impressive. A must-own. Now that it's finally possible to own it!
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    58 of 63 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Melville's masterpiece March 1, 2007
    Format:DVD
    L'Armée des Ombres is not nearly as well-known as it deserves to be. For a long time incredibly difficult to track down unless you speak French and overshadowed by the reputations of Le Samourai, Le Cercle Rouge and Bob le Flambeur, it's by far Jean-Pierre Melville's most heartfelt and powerful film. The resistance is as much a part of Melville as cinema - Melville was one of the false names he used during the war - and this is a film that feels as if it has been lived by the people making it: it's not so much a tribute as a confession of guilt. Although the gangster parallels are there, it's not an affectation: after the war, many resistance figures famously put their newly learned talents to use by either going into crime or politics. Melville went into movies.

    His protagonists aren't action heroes. They don't blow up trains or bridges. They deliver radios and spend more time killing each other than killing Germans. Indeed, the film's four month timespan from October 1942 to February 1943 covers a moral journey that sees them go from killing traitors to killing friends. Many of their plans fail, their gestures often futile as it becomes clear that these people will never live to see the liberation - something brought tragically to light in the film's final moments that carry a real emotional punch absent in Melville's other work. The final image of the Arc de Triomphe glimpsed furtively through the windscreen of a car hurrying away from the murder of a friend is a solemn and bitter one: this is the human cost of victory. (The sequence originally ended with a shot of German troops parading down the Champs Elysee, emphasizing that nothing has changed, but the shot was moved to the opening of the film, acting both as historical scene-setter and leitmotif bookend.
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    35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Nerves of Steel May 16, 2007
    Format:DVD
    Director Jean-Pierre Melville drew from his own experiences of The French Resistance during World War II to make the same-titled novel into an inspired movie. Capturing the gamut of participants and demonstrating that not all of the French were on board, 'Army of Shadows' zeroes in on some of the more effective players who must operate with nerves of steel to sneak around, outfox, and escape from their German occupiers and undermine their influence.

    Protagonist Phillippe Gerbier (Lino Ventura), a civil engineer, is the focal point. At the beginning he is sent to a prison the French originally meant for the Germans. After a skillful escape, he must continue the mission and dote over any fellow member who may be subsequently captured and tortured, so that the operation won't be revealed to the Nazis. One focal point of tension is when fellow member Felix (Paul Crauchet) is captured, and Phillipe laments he has no cyanide capsules to take his own life if the pressure is too much for him. Having connections for communication and arms from London and a spy network that matters make their operation essential are amongst many of the tactics in their arsenal. (Some of the London scenes are quite interesting. Phillipe's British laison doesn't trust the bumbling French and is stingy with arms. Visiting a jazz discoteque in London, the dancers don't even flinch at the sounds and shaking of bombs.) Resourceful in their repertoire is shop owner Matilde (Simone Signoret) whose own family doesn't even suspect her involvement. Her clever insights make her a key player in their operation.

    'Army of Shadows' is methodical, sometimes requiring the patience requisite of the resistance. The timing merely gives the audience an unnerving sense of the imminent dangers lurking amongst them.
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    40 of 49 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Oblivion Seekers May 19, 2007
    Format:DVD
    To view a Jean-Pierre Melville film is to step into a universe where real communication between men (and the occasional woman), if it exists at all, has been reduced to a few spare facial expressions. Melville's characters are deeply skeptical of social codes (which simply provide rationalizations/justifications for countless injustices), of human nature (which is mutable and unreliable), and of themselves. And since his characters are deeply skeptical of the things that usually bind people together Melville's social/human outcasts maintain some sense of self only by setting their own course according to a supra-human standard. It is human nature to seek friendship and brotherhood but in the human world no bond is ever sacred and the only inevitable thing about bonds is that they eventually break. Melville's universe is thus a fatalistic universe populated by gamblers, thieves, assassins, and resistance fighters who each recognize that the odds are against them and unbeatable. But Melville's quiet anti-heroes fascinate us because even though they do not believe that anything like victory is ever achievable in human affairs they remain curious about themselves and how they will act in different circumstances and so they persist if only to test themselves and re-affirm (perhaps only to themselves) that they are made of harder stuff than the rest of fickle humanity.

    There have been relatively few insightful French films about WWII. A few that come to mind are: Clouzot's Le Corbeau (1943), Resnais' Night and Fog (1955), and Chabrol's Eye of Vichy (1993).
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars MELVILLE GOES TO BLURAY AND THIS DEFINES COOL!
    MELVILLE GOES TO BLURAY AND THIS DEFINES COOL! HOWEVER, I WISH "LE SAMOURAI" AND "BOB THE GAMBLER" COULD HAVE THIS TREATMENT ONE DAY! SEE? Read more
    Published 2 months ago by HAN XIAO
    5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting Film
    Superb cast of great French & Italian actors, headed by Lino Ventura and Simone Signoret. Intelligent, profoundly moving. Read more
    Published 2 months ago by Jan Cambria
    5.0 out of 5 stars This is a part of life I hope we never know
    This is a wild film. It is a story about people whose homeland was invaded and their government and army could not protect them. Read more
    Published 4 months ago by Thomas E. Maddocks
    5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best French films I've seen.
    Army of Shadows is a masterpiece of 20th century French cinema. It's the story of a group of Resistance fighters during World War Two, trying to stop Nazis from taking over and... Read more
    Published 4 months ago by B. Adducchio
    5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT !
    LOVE LOVE LOVE Army of Shadows. The movie is beautiful and powerful. And criterion's edition is first rate packaging and in technical quality. Read more
    Published 9 months ago by Meta Fitrin Harisno
    5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
    Better than I could have imagined. Incredible commitment from the actors to the atmospheric cinematography, direction never a false note...total tour d' force.
    Published 11 months ago by SLysohir
    5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking, game-changing film
    I first saw this movie in 2007 when Criterion released it in the US, and fell in love with it. I was already a huge fan of Melville, Le Cercle Rouge being one of my favorite movies... Read more
    Published 11 months ago by Hartwell
    5.0 out of 5 stars Worth learning an other Language
    Are we Jaded? Rate this product. . . We EXPECT what we purchases to BE. To work without difficulty, without oops, without interruptions, to provide the intended use. Read more
    Published 12 months ago by halh
    2.0 out of 5 stars If you like meaningful looks and pauses, you will like this movie
    Boring with a slow pace, and because it had subtitles, you won't be able to supplement the lack of stimulation from this movie by surfing the internet on your laptop. Read more
    Published 12 months ago by Billy-Bob Garcia
    5.0 out of 5 stars Make no Shadow
    I had never heard of this film before but I found it to be very entertaining and educational. For its time (pre-1976) this is a remarkable film. Read more
    Published 13 months ago by Gene Cisco
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