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Army of Shadows

(L’armée des ombres)
France/Italy 1969. Dir: Jean-Pierre Melville. 143 min. DCP

NEW RESTORATION! Melville’s most personal film is, perhaps by no coincidence, his most powerful too, a haunting meditation on wartime survival that effortlessly transposes his noir sensibilities from criminal underworld to military underground. Based on Joseph Kessel's 1943 memoir, and redolent of Melville’s own involvement with the French Resistance, Army of Shadows tracks a network of guerrilla fighters (played by Lino Ventura, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and Simone Signoret, among others) and their efforts to elude capture in Nazi-occupied France. Released in the fallout of May 1968, the film was derided by leftist critics — most savagely, those at Cahiers du cinéma — for its perceived glorification of then-president Charles de Gaulle, a central figure of the Resistance. Its restoration and re-release in 2006 precipitated a seismic reversal in critical appreciation; it’s now regarded as one of Melville’s masterworks. “Masterfully made, with no detail unattended” (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times).

 

REVIEWS

"The filmmaker creates the most meaningful atmosphere of exquisite suspense you’re likely to see at the movies this year. Or most years."

Entertainment Weekly | full review

"Rarely has a film shown so truly that place in the heart where hope lives with fatalism ... As one of his films after another is rediscovered, Melville is moving into the ranks of the greatest directors."

Roger Ebert | full review