Monday, August 12, 2013

Movie of the Week – Army of Shadows

This week’s movie: Army of Shadows (1969).

Philippe Gerbier, a civil engineer, is captured and held in a prison camp in France, 1942, under Nazi occupation. The Nazis however are unaware that they have in their custody one of the French Resistance’s chiefs. Gerbier escapes and with his compatriots unleashes a brutal counterstrike operation against them in Marseilles.

The film is very personal to French auteur Jean-Pierre Melville as he was a member of the Resistance himself (as well as co-writer Joseph Kessel). It is Melville’s best film in an illustrious career (which included the very cool assassin drama Le Samourai). Melville worked with composer Eric Demarsan, cinematographers Pierre Lhomme and Walter Wottitz, and production designer Theobald Meurisse on the film.

Army of Shadows is a sensational film for many reasons, and should appeal to those looking for wonderfully artistic and aesthetically engaging cinema as well as those looking for a compelling WWII film. Melville uses color to convey tone and mood exceptionally here, and his restrained performances and minimal dialog seem to only increase the tension and the film’s ability to emotionally engross. It is brutal and beautiful. Fans of war films cannot miss this one (and that goes for those looking to see all the great films of French cinema, as this truly one of the best).

Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Streaming

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