Pin It
Favorite

DVD Review 

by BOB GRIMM & r & & r & Army of Shadows & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & U & lt;/span & nreleased in the United States until last year, this 1969 masterpiece by Jean-Pierre Melville was panned by French critics upon its original release for multiple reasons. Some said that the characters in this story of French Resistance fighters during World War II were presented as gangsters. Others condemned it for glorifying Charles de Gaulle, a controversial figure at the time.





I can report that the characters here are not gangsters. They are, in fact, tragic figures dealing with hardships and betrayals on many levels, with their efforts ultimately resulting in death. Lino Ventura, in a heartbreaking performance, plays Philippe Gerbier, a character partially based on an actual Melville colleague named Pierre-Bloch, who fought the German occupation of 1940-44. The film begins with Gerbier's imprisonment.





After a successful escape attempt, he reunites with other members of the Resistance, including Mathilde (Simone Signoret), an espionage mastermind, and Jean-Fran & ccedil;ois (Jean-Pierre Cassel, father of modern era French star Vincent Cassel). Melville depicts their stories with an understated, monochromatic film that evades bombastic heroics. His characters are tortured mentally and physically, and they will not live to see the glory of their dedication.





That's not to say Melville isn't an exciting filmmaker. A sequence where Gerbier must jump from a plane at night is intense, as is an attempted rescue of an imprisoned member of the Resistance. Another set piece, in which Gerbier faces a firing squad, is masterful filmmaking.





Thanks to Studio Canal (the French production company that restored the film) and Criterion (the American firm that is known for meticulous DVD releases) you can witness this long-forgotten film. From its opening with Nazis parading in France to the final text showing its characters' fates, it's amazing.





And the extras are great, too, especially an illuminating recent interview with actual Army of Shadows cinematographer Pierre Lhomme. Archival featurettes and documentaries, including one examining the final days of German-occupied France, make things very informative. Film historian Ginette Vincendeau provides commentary, and a booklet encapsulating critical excerpts and details on each character rounds out the package.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Game Changer
  • Game Changer

    Since Condon became mayor, Jan Quintrall has been responsible for some of the biggest changes in the city of Spokane — and some of its biggest controversies
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • In Contempt
  • In Contempt

    A Spokane judge rules that the mental health system has willfully failed to follow evaluation deadlines
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Never Again
  • Never Again

    Washington state lawmakers push reforms after last July's murder-suicide; plus, Spokane's police ombudsman is leaving
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Spokane Winter Glow Spectacular

Spokane Winter Glow Spectacular @ Riverfront Park

Through Jan. 1, 2015

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Let Us Breathe

    Spokane joins national protests over the failure to indict white officers for killing black civilians
    • Dec 10, 2014
  • Screw Big Cities

    A mid-sized manifesto
    • Dec 3, 2014
  • More »

© 2014 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation