- Army of Shadows
name = Army of Shadows
caption = 2006 theatrical release poster
writer = Jean-Pierre Melville
Lino Ventura Simone Signoret Paul Meurisse Jean-Pierre Cassel
cinematography = Pierre Lhomme
released = 1969 (France)
runtime = 145 minutes
language = French
website = http://rialtopictures.com/shadows.html
amg_id = 1:98021
imdb_id = 0064040
For the book "Army of Shadows" see "
Army of Shadows, Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948"
"Army of Shadows" (French: "L'Armée des ombres") is a 1969 French film directed by
Jean-Pierre Melville. It is a film adaptation of Joseph Kessel's 1943 book of the same name, which blends Kessel's own experiences as a member of the French Resistancewith fictionalized versions of real Resistance members who fought against the Nazioccupation of France during World War II.
At the time of its initial release in
France, "Army of Shadows" was not well received and was rarely seen. It was not released in the United Statesuntil 2006, 37 years later. [cite web|url=http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060521/REVIEWS08/605210301 |title=rogerebert.com: Great Movies: Army of Shadows |accessdate=2008-05-05 |publisher= Chicago Sun-Times|last=Ebert|first=Roger|date=2006-05-21] Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, however, the French news magazine "L'Express" repeatedly called "Army of Shadows" "perhaps the best French film ever made on the [French] Resistance."Fact|date=July 2007
October 1942 in
Nazi-occupied France. Philippe Gerbier ( Lino Ventura), a distinguished civil engineer and the head of a Resistance network, has been arrested by Vichy French police and is placed in a camp. A few days later, the French authorities hand Gerbier over to the Nazi secret police, the Gestapo, and he is transferred to headquarters in Parisfor interrogation. Gerbier manages a daring escape by killing a guard and makes his way back to Marseilleswhere his network is based.
Gerbier's right-hand man, Félix Lepercq (
Paul Crauchet), has identified a young agent named Paul as the informant who betrayed him to the Vichy police. With the help of Guillaume Vermersch a.k.a. "Le Bison" ( Christian Barbier), a burly French Foreign Legionveteran, Gerbier and Lepercq take Paul to a safe houseto execute him. They are met there by Claude Ullmann a.k.a. "Le Masque" ( Claude Mann), a young upstart eager to prove himself. The execution cannot be done as planned, by shooting, because of a family next door, and in the end the traitor is strangled.
Lepercq happens upon lost friend in a bar, Jean-François Jardie (
Jean-Pierre Cassel), a handsome, risk-loving, former pilot. Upon Lepercq's offer, Jean-François joins the Resistance. On his first mission to Paris, he meets Mathilde ( Simone Signoretin a role loosely modeled after real-life Resistance hero Lucie Aubrac) who under the guise of a homemaker is one of the linchpins of Gerbier's network, unbeknownst to her family. His work done, Jean-François pays a surprise visit to his elder brother Luc Jardie ( Paul Meurisse), a renowned philosopher who lives a detached, scholarly life in his Paris mansion. (Luc Jardie's character is based on the actual philosopher/resistance leader Jean Cavaillès). In fact, later in the film Gerbier is seen in hiding reading several of Jardie's books under the titles of Cavaillèsprewar works.
Meanwhile, through a complex operation Gerbier and Luc Jardie travel to
Free Frenchheadquarters in Londonvia a British submarine. On the sub Gerbier finds out Luc Jardie is actually the "Grand Patron" (Big Boss), the head of all Resistance networks whose identity is a closely guarded secret.
In London, Gerbier organises additional logistical support for the resistance and Luc Jardie is decorated by
Charles de Gaullehimself. Gerbier takes shelter from an air raid in a night club. Gerbier must, however, cut his trip short when he learns that the Gestapo has captured Lepercq. He parachutes back to France and finds shelter in a châteaunear Annecyin the French Alps. Meanwhile, Mathilde has taken command after Lepercq's arrest. Learning that Lepercq is detained in a maximum-security Gestapoprison in Lyon, she devises an audacious escape plan. Jean-François, who has been sitting silently through the discussion of the plan, makes his decision. He writes a letter of resignation to Gerbier and mails an anonymous letter to the Gestapo to incriminate himself. His gamble is successful: after a brutal interrogation, he is placed in the same cell as Lepercq. Lepercq has been repeatedly tortured and lies on his bunk barely alive.
Dressed as a German military nurse, and accompanied by "Le Masque" and "Le Bison" wearing German uniforms, she arrives at the gate of the Lyon prison in a stolen German ambulance with a forged order for Lepercq's transfer to
Gestapoheadquarters. However, the prison doctor, though duped by the order, examines the moribund Lepercq and pronounces him unfit for transport. Mathilde had not anticipated that contingency and can only leave the prison empty-handed. Jean-François, seeing that any chance of escape is now lost, tells Lepercq that he has several cyanidepills and offers him one (hiding from him the fact that he in fact only has one pill).
On the run again after the
Gestapohas discovered his Annecyhideout, Gerbier meets Mathilde in a Lyonrestaurant for debriefing. To Mathilde, who urges him to escape to Londonin view of the mounting danger—she has seen a poster with his face on the wall of the prison. Mathilde departs, but a happenstance Vichy police raid of the restaurant for food rationingviolations captures Gerbier. He is handed over to the Germans and, after a few days in prison, is taken with his cellmates to a firing range where an SSofficer explains the sadistic game where the prisoners are to race to the far end of the room as the machine gun firing squad fires upon them. As the shooting starts, Mathilde's team, who had been lying in wait on the roof of the corridor, throws smoke bombsinto the line of fire to block the Germans' view, then throws a line to Gerbier who narrowly escapes. "Le Bison" then drives Gerbier to an abandoned farmhouse deep in the countryside, where he is to wait for the situation to cool down.
After three weeks of solitude, Gerbier receives the unexpected visit of Luc Jardie who has come to seek his advice after Mathilde has been arrested. Despite Gerbier's earlier warning, Mathilde was carrying a photo of her daughter in her wallet when she was caught. The Gestapo offers her a choice: either Mathilde tells all about the network or her daughter will be sent to a military
brothelin Poland. The "Grand Patron" has barely finished explaining the situation when "Le Masque" and "Le Bison" arrive. Jardie, wanting his presence to remain secret, hides in the back room while the two men hand over a coded status report telling that Mathilde has been released the day before and that two Resistance men have been picked up the same afternoon. Gerbier orders Mathilde's immediate execution, but "Le Bison" refuses to carry out the order and swears to prevent Gerbier from killing her. As a fight is about to break out, Jardie emerges from the back room and defuses the tension by the sheer force of his personality. He convinces "Le Bison" that the only reason Mathilde acted the way she did—betraying only minor agents, convincing the Gestapo to release her under the pretext of leading them to her network—was to give the Resistance a window of opportunity to kill her, thereby sparing the network and her daughter. "Le Bison" reluctantly agrees to take part in the operation and Jardie announces that he too will be present as a final homage to Mathilde. Later, however, Jardie reveals to Gerbier that that the argument he presented to "Le Bison" is purely speculative.
A few days later, Mathilde is walking the streets of
Pariswhen Jardie and his men pull up next to her in a stolen " Wehrmacht" car. Seeing them, Mathilde freezes and keeps her eyes locked into Jardie's while "Le Bison" slowly pulls out a pistoland fires two fatal shots upon which the car speeds away. As the film comes to an end, silent text screens tell us the eventual fate of the four men: "Le Masque" will manage to swallow his cyanide pill in time, "Le Bison" will be beheaded in a German prison, Jardie will die under torture having betrayed no other name than his own—and Gerbier, will decide not to run this time.
The final shot is a POV from within the car, the Arc de Triomphe prominent in the windshield, until a soldier literally waves them away.
"Army of Shadows" was released on DVD in
Region 2by the British Film Institutein November 2006 and in Region 1by the Criterion Collectionin May 2007.
Lino Ventura- Philippe Gerbier
Paul Meurisse- Luc Jardie
Jean-Pierre Cassel- Jean-François Jardie
Simone Signoret- Mathilde
Claude Mann- Claude Ullmann a.k.a. "Le Masque"
Paul Crauchet- Félix Lepercq
Christian Barbier- Guillaume Vermersch a.k.a. "Le Bison"
Serge Reggiani- The hairdresser
André Dewavrina.k.a. Colonel Passy - as himself
Alain Dekok- Legrain
Alain Mottet- Camp commander
Alain Libolt- Paul Dounat
Jean-Marie Robain- Baron de Ferté-Talloire
Albert Michel- "Gendarme"
Denis Sadier- Gestapoprison doctor
Top ten lists
The film appeared on many critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2006. [cite web|url=http://www.metacritic.com/film/awards/2006/toptens.shtml |title=Metacritic: 2006 Film Critic Top Ten Lists |accessdate=2008-01-08 |publisher=
*1st - David Ansen, "
*1st - Ella Taylor, "
*1st - Glenn Kenny, "Premiere"
*1st - Manohla Dargis, "
The New York Times"
*1st - Scott Foundas, "
*1st - Stephanie Zacharek, "Salon"
*2nd - Jonathan Rosenbaum, "
Chicago Reader" (tied with "Statues Also Die")
*2nd - Michael Sragow, "
The Baltimore Sun"
*2nd - Nathan Lee, "
The Village Voice"
*2nd - Wesley Morris, "
The Boston Globe"
*3rd - Stephen Hunter, "
The Washington Post"
*4th - Shawn Levy, "
*4th - Sheri Linden, "
The Hollywood Reporter"
*5th - Marjorie Baumgarten, "
The Austin Chronicle"
*7th - Richard James Havis, "
The Hollywood Reporter"
*7th - Richard Schickel, "TIME" magazine
*8th - Michael Wilmington, "
Chicago Tribune"General top ten
*Steven Rea, "
The Philadelphia Inquirer"
*V.A. Musetto, "
New York Post"
* [http://criterion.com/asp/release.asp?id=385&eid=538§ion=essay Criterion Collection essay] by Amy Taubin
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Army of Shadows, Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917–1948 — Army of Shadows is a book by Hillel Cohen. [ [http://www.jewishexponent.com/article/16091/ Advocacy Corner | The Jewish Exponent ] ] It was published in Hebrew in 2004, translated from the Hebrew by Haim Watzman and published in English by the… … Wikipedia
Shadows of Memory — Infobox Film name = Shadows of Memory image size = 150px caption = Claudia von Alemann with her mother director = Claudia von Alemann producer = writer = narrator = starring = music = cinematography = editing = distributor = released = 2000… … Wikipedia
Shadows on the Stars — infobox Book | name = Shadows on the Stars title orig = translator = image caption = Cover art for Shadows on the Stars author = T. A. Barron illustrator = David Elliot cover artist = David Elliot country = United States language = English series … Wikipedia
The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar — For information about the expansion packs, see The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria, The Lord of the Rings Online: Siege of Mirkwood, and The Lord of the Rings Online: Rise of Isengard. The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar… … Wikipedia
Apache (The Shadows song) — Jump On It redirects here. For the Sir Mix a Lot song, see Jump On It.Single infobox Name = Apache Caption = single cover Artist = The Shadows B side = Quartermaster s Stores (Trad: arr Bill Shepherd) Released = July 1960 United Kingdom Recorded … Wikipedia
The Shadows of Avalon — Doctorwhobook title=The Shadows of Avalon series=Eighth Doctor Adventures number=31 featuring=Eighth Doctor Fitz, Compassion, Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, Romana III writer=Paul Cornell publisher=BBC Books isbn=ISBN 0 563 55588 2 set between=… … Wikipedia
Ukrainian Insurgent Army — Українська Повстанська Армія Ukrayins’ka Povstans’ka Armiya Participant in World War II … Wikipedia
Paladin of Shadows — The Paladin of Shadows or the Kildar series is a series of books written by Military sci fi author John Ringo and centering around the life of ex SEAL Mike Ghost Harmon, who in the second book becomes a quasi feudal de facto nobleman known as the … Wikipedia
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army — This article is about the 2006 game for the PlayStation 2. For the original Devil Summoner from 1995, see Devil Summoner. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army Developer(s) Atlus … Wikipedia
Temple of Shadows — Infobox Album | Name = Temple of Shadows Type = studio Artist = Angra Released = 2004 Recorded = Genre = Progressive power metal Length = 66:30 Label = Paradoxx Music / SPV Producer = Dennis Ward Reviews = * Allmusic Rating|4|5… … Wikipedia