Customer Reviews


11 Reviews
5 star:
 (7)
4 star:
 (2)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine Criterion Blu ray transfer of historic film about the French Resistance
Originally released in 1969 under the French title "L'Armee des ombres" it was cleaned up and finally came to the U.S. in 2006. Most of us Yanks hear all the punch lines about the French and how they had to be bailed out by England and America in WW I & II. I'm not so sure any occupied country wouldn't have behaved similarly.

Here we get a balanced look for...
Published on February 15, 2012 by M. Oleson

versus
2 of 15 people found the following review helpful
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. I'd like my two and a half hours back.
Published 20 months ago by Billy-Bob Garcia


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine Criterion Blu ray transfer of historic film about the French Resistance, February 15, 2012
By 
This review is from: Army of Shadows (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Originally released in 1969 under the French title "L'Armee des ombres" it was cleaned up and finally came to the U.S. in 2006. Most of us Yanks hear all the punch lines about the French and how they had to be bailed out by England and America in WW I & II. I'm not so sure any occupied country wouldn't have behaved similarly.

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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best French films I've seen., November 27, 2013
This review is from: Army of Shadows (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
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 destroying their country. The movie contains some really atmospheric scenes in which you as the audience don't know who is fighting for who, and what will happen next.

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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MELVILLE GOES TO BLURAY AND THIS DEFINES COOL!, February 7, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Army of Shadows (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
MELVILLE GOES TO BLURAY AND THIS DEFINES COOL! HOWEVER, I WISH "LE SAMOURAI" AND "BOB THE GAMBLER" COULD HAVE THIS TREATMENT ONE DAY! SEE? EUROPE EDITIONS HAVE COME OUT!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's Nothing Shadowy About this Sledgehammer of a Film, June 26, 2011
By 
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Army of Shadows (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
"Army of Shadows," ("L'Armee des Ombres") (1969), clocks in at 145 minutes of classic French cinema, in color this time. It tells a dark, gritty dramatic wartime story of the French underground resistance that sprang up during the World War II German occupation of this Gallic country. The film was set in 1942. It was based upon a novel written by much-honored writer Joseph Kessel, ( Belle De Jour, novel; and Belle de Jour [Blu-ray],film), co-written as a screen play and directed by cult favorite Jean-Pierre Melville(Bob le Flambeur: The Criterion Collection]), both of whom had belonged to "le resistance" during the war years.

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 (Diabolique: The Criterion Collection]) as Luc Jardie, top chief of the underground, and a much-honored mathematical theorist; Jean-Pierre Cassel ( The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie: The Criterion Collection)as his younger brother Jean Francois Jardie; and Claude Mann as Claude Ullmann, called "Le Masque." Simone Signoret (Casque d'Or: The Criterion Collection) dominates the film, despite her fourth billing, turning in a monumental performance as Mathilde, a woman who is as smart, brave, tough, and ingenious as any of the men - but makes one fatal small mistake. Her old friend and costar in CASQUE, Serge Reggiani, inhabits the barber, a bit part.

Things ultimately do not go well for this brave band of people: it is, realistically, unlikely that they would, and neither Kessel ( elected a member of the intensely prestigious Acadamie Francaise) nor Melville makes any compromises with reality. The movie is as intelligent and understated as its characters. It has a documentary-like feel in its lack of sugar-coating and does without a sound track for most of its running length. I doubt it would work without the full-bodied performances of Ventura and Signoret, and doubt it will ever achieve popularity: it was not even released in the United States until 2006. But it's a masterpiece: be in no doubt about that. There is nothing shadowy about this sledgehammer of a film.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moody, slow-paced but extremely gripping exploration of the French Resistance, November 15, 2012
By 
RMurray847 (Albuquerque, NM United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Army of Shadows (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I knew almost literally nothing about ARMY OF SHADOWS before I sat down to watch it. I had bought the Blu-Ray because I'm trying to watch more movies that are "good for me"...so I've been gobbling up Criterion releases.

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. I found it to be a fascinating and revealing look at the central characters, even though we get to know almost nothing about them. We must learn about them through their actions (or lack thereof) as well as their attitudes. There is almost no backstory. These ordinary looking men and women are matter-of-fact heroes. They bear no resemblance to the WWII heroes of most movies we know, whether modern or old. They feel like real people displaying real bravery. Bravery that has them doing things they know are crazy...we can almost feel some of the characters ready to panic and run...but they hang in there and do what they must.

Yet the pervasive mood of the film is of sadness and impending doom. Each character has some degree of a fatalistic attitude. Every day is a gift, but every day is also another 24 hours to live in dread of being caught, tortured into betraying your allies and then death.

The film is very well made and although in color, the hues are mostly gray and a gray-blue. The Blu-ray is gorgeous...all the subtle shadings and shadows (so important to the film and the title) are caught. The pace is slow and director Jean-Pierre Melville spends lots of time showing his characters doing mundane things (like getting a shave or eating a sandwich) and then he zips through things we might normally describe as "action." It has the effect of making the movie and its characters feel all the more real and lived-in. But the film is nearly 2.5 hours, yet in contradiction to the slow pacing, actually felt shorter. It was that engrossing.

As I said, Lino Ventura is exceptional as Gerbier. It is a minimalist portrayal, nothing that would ever garner awards attention...but it is powerfully effective. He is ably assisted by a cast that includes Simone Signoret as Mathilde...perhaps the coolest operative of all. At the midpoint of the film, she concocts an escape plan that plays out in excruciating real time...some of the tensest moments of any film. Signoret is terrific in her role.

By the way, the final few minutes of the film, where Gerbier and HIS boss must make a terrible choice, are gripping and shocking. In a calm, measured way we are shown the brutality of being in the Resistance.

The only fault I really find with the film is that it assumes we know history. I suppose in 1969 (when the film was made), the people of France understood the Resistance and DeGaulle pretty well. But for an American viewer who was admittedly somewhat ill-informed...I would have liked a little backstory. In fact, we are barely told that we're seeing France during the time of the occupation by Germany. We must know these things already.

Also, the bonus features of this film are exceptional, even for Criterion. I did not watch them all yet, but there is great stuff on the director, the film and even on the French Resistance, including an interesting documentary made by Resistance filmmakers during the war itself. Criterion has done a splendid job of bringing the definitive version of this lesser known classic to English-speaking audiences. I heartily recommend the film and the Criterion version thereof.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding Hatred (and Blu-ray remastering), May 10, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Army of Shadows (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
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 spend more money to purchase another copy of this film.

Jean Paul Melville has delivered a drama that minutely dissects the human dimensions of the resistance to the Nazi oppression of the French.
This is not an action movie about handsome, perfect, heroes and heroines, but a taut thriller about flawed people who act on principle and are often in conflict with their own beliefs.

If you want to see a master of screen storytelling, then it is hard to surpass Jean Paul Melville's retelling of this tale. His style of filmmaking presents itself too infrequently, and it is a real pleasure to be able to see this film in the state it was meant to be seen in.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable Masterpiece, December 16, 2010
This review is from: Army of Shadows (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I just watched this again for the second time this morning, and I echo those who have rightly called this one of cinema's all-time high water marks. There is no question that the intensity and bleak somber and introspective tone -- expressed in almost every possible way via lighting, setting, subject matter, character development, pacing, you name it -- creates a film of exquisite moral and philosophical gravity. Good god, who is still making movies like this anymore?

Anyone with any interest in high-quality filmmaking needs to know this film, you will carry with you for a very long time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Empire 5 Star 500 - #35, May 1, 2011
This review is from: Army of Shadows (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
What are your links to the outside world? This is an outstanding film. It takes you inside the French Resistance during World War II. The best description: Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They are fighting for what they believe and fighting to survive each and everyday. Deeply moving, thoughtful, and terrifying. Long live the spirit of resistance.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overrated and depressing, March 5, 2011
This review is from: Army of Shadows (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
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. It is a psychological thriller rather than an action film, influenced by Hitchcock and film noir. The best part is the photography, filled with atmospheric footage of the French countryside in the war years, moody and lovely.

However, as a film I found it overrated. I realize that my saying this is not politically correct. People hesitate to criticize "famous landmark works of art," assuming that if they didn't enjoy it, it must be because they are dummies. But in truth this movie is tedious to watch, oddly edited, and unncessarily depressing. There is very little drama and too many long silences. It moves at a glacial pace and could easily have been edited from 2 1/2 hours to 1 1/2 without losing much. For example there is a scene where the hero is in an aircraft about to be parachuted into France. We watch him sleeping in the hold, eating a sandwich, etc., all about 10 minutes of footage before he finally jumps. I suppose the intent is to show the texture of his everyday experience as a fighter, but do we really need to watch him eat the whole sandwich?

What bothered me most was the unrelieved dark atmosphere and the lack of any content to justify the sacrifices of the resistance. Watching this movie one could conclude the Resistance lost the war when in fact they won it. This is a director who has been quoted as saying "mankind is always defeated in the end," which I find a repellent philosophy of life, the Second World War notwithstanding. Mankind is not always defeated; it was the Nazis who were defeated, and the Resistance occupies to this day a place of pride in the French national consciousness.

Despite its creation by a depressive personality, the film is worth watching, as history and as cinematography. Its images convey the otherworldly softness of the countryside along with an atmosphere of menace during a harsh time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If you like meaningful looks and pauses, you will like this movie, April 15, 2013
By 
This review is from: Army of Shadows (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
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. I'd like my two and a half hours back.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Army of Shadows (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
Army of Shadows (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] by Jean-Pierre Melville (Blu-ray - 2011)
$75.45
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.