Army of Shadows (L'Armée des ombres)


Army of Shadows (L'Armée des ombres) (1969)


Critic Consensus: Originally made in 1969, this recently reissued classic is a masterful examination of the inner workings of the World War II resistance efforts.


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Movie Info

In this war drama set during the French Resistance of WW II, a courageous fighter escapes Gestapo headquarters and returns to Marseille. There he and his gang capture a traitor and throttle him. They then try to rescue a Resistance fighter in Lyons. As they do so, the hero is again captured and his partner killed. Again the hero escapes just before he is executed. He then finds that a female partner has been captured. To avoid having her daughter forced to work in a Nazi brothel, the woman has informed upon the others. She is then released and subsequently killed by another Resistance fighter for revenge. The screenplay is based on Joseph Kessel's novel and became filmmaker Jean Pierre Melville's magnum opus. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Army of Shadows (L'Armée des ombres)

All Critics (73) | Top Critics (24)

As close to a masterpiece as any film you're likely to see this year.

Aug 17, 2007 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

A film to be seen and savored for its moral magnitude.

Apr 25, 2007 | Full Review…
Top Critic

From the first sight of German soldiers goose-stepping past the Arc de Triomphe to a postscript that spells out the fate of characters whose moral confusion is all too real, Army of Shadows is a movie of its time -- and ours.

Jan 18, 2007 | Rating: 4/4

For anyone interested in the impact of war on ordinary men, Army of Shadows proves a sobering and invaluable experience.

Sep 22, 2006 | Rating: B+

This memorable movie movingly pays tribute to those who chose not to remain silent, to those ordinary men and women who chose to do extraordinary things... from the shadows.

Sep 21, 2006 | Rating: A-

Place it squarely in the category of overlooked gems.

Sep 15, 2006 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Army of Shadows (L'Armée des ombres)

The French Resistance is where this examination begins but there's not a single scene showing a train being blown up or lines being furtively cut in the dead of night ... rather it's a look at the interior damage wrought when choosing to resist tyranny at all, the isolation, the loneliness, the agonizing fear of trusting yourself. Must see.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Unembellished and matter-of-fact. Melville masterfully spotlights the French Resistance without martyring the Nazi regime that spawned it.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer


a great depiction of french resistance, melville blends substance with his usual stylistic approach. the film falters at many points with a lack of clarity and direction to the shifty plot, and the film is almost entirely without emotion, but it has striking images and flawless direction in its portrayal of horrific events. overall very good film.

danny d
danny d

Super Reviewer

Heroism to Melville isn't the pretty picture Hollywood gives us in its' sanitized war films. This is a grim film where those pursuing a noble cause don't have the opportunity to even enjoy it as they must be prepared for the possible worst. Melville's filmmaking style is slow and deliberate giving the viewer an anti-heroic account of the early days of French resistance to the Nazi Occupation which is both restrained and terrifyingly tense. Photobucket

El Hombre Invisible
El Hombre Invisible

Super Reviewer

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