Army of Shadows (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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Well, even though they've had a few selections that I haven't been too excited about, ARMY OF SHADOWS fits squarely into the successful pile. It's the slow-paced yet strangely riveting tale of the early days of the French Resistance during the Nazi occupation of France. It introduces us, in a seemingly haphazard fashion, to a variety of members of the group. While the focus is squarely on the high-level Gerbier (played in masterful fashion by Lino Ventura), we meet quite a variety of folks. The movie begins as Gerbier is being driven to prison. He's introduced to us as a mild-mannered, dry-humored man who looks like an accountant. He's actually an engineer, and despite his politeness and his very slow pace...he's a man of action, as we learn during his rather daring escape.
As we learn more about Gerbier and the folks working with him, we also begin to understand the challenges these brave people face. When one is caught, the immediate fear is that this person will be tortured and give up names of other members. How they deal with their own is at the heart of much of the film (in fact, we don't really see anyone engaging in any real resistance, per se). One of the most remarkable sequences revolves around how Gerbier and his cohorts handle a traitor in their midst. The scene is slow and steady and calm...yet what happens is almost unbelievable for the men involved and fills the viewer with a sense of dread and a deeper understanding of what it means to live a dangerous double life.
I hesitate to describe any more events of the film.Read more ›
Here we get a balanced look for the first time, for me anyway. Yes there were traitors and turncoats amongst the French population, but there was also the Resistance which is what this movie is all about. In a particularly chilling scene, the heroes grab one of the young "turncoats" take him to a hotel in order to execute him. No trial, but that was the Resistance way. They don't want to shoot him because of the noise and they can't find a knife to slit his throat. Finally the leader says we'll just have to strangle him. All the while the young man is listening while his demise is being discussed like a business transaction. Creepy!
Ultimately the film is well acted, interesting, but also agonizingly slow at times and too long at 145 minutes. The Criterion folks do their usual fine job of transferring the restored film to Blu ray. It includes a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack and a documentary, info on the restoration, interviews and a booklet of essays.
Army of Shadows kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. It's a really obscure movie, but Art House cinema fans will really be intrigued by it, and people who want to watch World War Two movies definitely need to see it.
Melville's experiences as a member of the Resistance help to inform this movie about a respected civil engineer who becomes one of the chiefs of the underground movement. Philippe Gerbier (Lino Ventura-- Touchez Pas au Grisbi: The Criterion Collection) is intelligent, resourceful, and brave. Gerbier's network is urban-based, rather than rural, centered in Paris and Lyons. This small band of partisans is in constant danger of arrest and torture by the Nazis. Principal players include Paul Meurisse (...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 morePublished on February 7, 2014 by HAN XIAO
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 morePublished on April 15, 2013 by Billy-Bob Garcia
Spends too much time on the in between parts that characters go through. Is memorable though. Well filmed. Could have edited out like 1/2 hour and it would bother no one.Published on January 24, 2012 by Jack Bert
This superb transfer by Criterion is well worth repurchasing if you own an older transfer. Seeing the quality in this Blu-ray version, I finally began to understand why I needed to... Read morePublished on May 10, 2011 by Paul Healy
What are your links to the outside world? This is an outstanding film. It takes you inside the French Resistance during World War II. Read morePublished on May 1, 2011 by The Inquisitor
This is an iconic movie in the style of 1960's French "Nouvelle Vague" filmaking which follows a resistance cell in occupied France 1942-44. Read morePublished on March 5, 2011 by Doctor.Generosity
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