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Army of Shadows [DVD]

Lino Ventura , Paul Meurisse , Jean-Pierre Melville    Suitable for 12 years and over   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
Price: £12.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Army of Shadows [DVD] + Is Paris Burning ? [DVD] (1966) + The Sorrow and the Pity [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Simone Signoret, Claude Mann
  • Directors: Jean-Pierre Melville
  • Producers: Jacques Dorfmann
  • Format: PAL
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Studiocanal
  • DVD Release Date: 2 Mar 2009
  • Run Time: 145 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001NDT9Y6
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,628 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

French war drama directed by Jean-Pierre Melville and based on the novel by Joseph Kessel. Drawing on the director's own experiences in World War II, the film follows a band of resistance fighters in German-controlled France. As the war continues, the grip of the occupying force tightens, and friendships, loyalty and trust give way to suspicion, secrecy and loss.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Melville's masterpiece 27 Feb 2007
By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
L'Armée des Ombres is not nearly as well-known as it deserves to be. For a long time incredibly difficult to track down unless you speak French and overshadowed by the reputations of Le Samourai, Le Cercle Rouge and Bob le Flambeur, it's by far Jean-Pierre Melville's most heartfelt and powerful film. The resistance is as much a part of Melville as cinema - Melville was one of the false names he used during the war - and this is a film that feels as if it has been lived by the people making it: it's not so much a tribute as a confession of guilt. Although the gangster parallels are there, it's not an affectation: after the war, many resistance figures famously put their newly learned talents to use by either going into crime or politics. Melville went into movies.

His protagonists aren't action heroes. They don't blow up trains or bridges. They deliver radios and spend more time killing each other than killing Germans. Indeed, the film's four month timespan from October 1942 to February 1943 covers a moral journey that sees them go from killing traitors to killing friends. Many of their plans fail, their gestures often futile as it becomes clear that these people will never live to see the liberation - something brought tragically to light in the film's final moments that carry a real emotional punch absent in Melville's other work. The final image of the Arc de Triomphe glimpsed furtively through the windscreen of a car hurrying away from the murder of a friend is a solemn and bitter one: this is the human cost of victory. (The sequence originally ended with a shot of German troops parading down the Champs Elysee, emphasizing that nothing has changed, but the shot was moved to the opening of the film, acting both as historical scene-setter and leitmotif bookend.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
"...but I'm going to die and I'm not afraid. It's impossible not to be afraid of dying. But I'm too stubborn, too much of an animal to believe it. If I don't believe it to the very last moment, the last split second, I'll never die." This is Philippe Gerbier speaking. The time is between October, 1942 and February, 1943. He's the leader of a resistance cell in German-occupied France. He was an engineer. Now he is a hard man of skeptical intelligence. He kills a German guard with a knife to the throat so quickly and so unexpectedly it's nerve rattling. In Jean-Pierre Melville's austere, somber Army of Shadows, we follow what happens to Gerbier (Lino Ventura) and a handful of others, primarily Luc Jardie (Paul Meurisse), a weak-seeming intellectual who turns out to be the head of resistance in France; Jean François Jardie (Jean-Pierre Cassel), Luc Jardie's younger brother; and the remarkable Mathilde (Simone Signoret), resourceful with icy nerves, a woman, Gerbier tells us, who is "strong-willed, methodical and patient. She knows both how to command and how to carry out orders." For four months we watch them operating in a claustrophobic environment of matter-of-fact violence, the realities of betrayal, hiding and planning, a life without humor and only cautious trust, and above all else, the goal of killing Germans. That also means the need to kill informers, no matter how young or how respected. They will all probably die. Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guerrilla: War To The Knife 10 April 2011
The topic of the film is an operations unit of the French Resistance. The film covers a wide range of activities having an almost documentary feel to it: operatives attack targets, including murdering an informer, spring their comrades from jail, and in turn kill those comrades when they break. There is nothing sentimental about the film and it is a specific against the 'Allo 'Allo view of the war. The storytelling is well paced, including some actions that lead nowhere. This must have been a very powerful film when it was first shown, and it retains much of its power today, aided by the presence of Lino Ventura as Gerbier.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes 1 May 2012
By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Slow, brooding, overcast, filled with muted colourful scenes that echo across the channel; walking through caked mud, cuckoos, the winding roads...but there it stops.

This follows a group of men and women who live forever on the edge of a precipice. Each moment is savoured as the full intensity of being alive, is brought home every ticking second. Under the cosh of the German regime, surveillance, the look for anything that disturbs the pre set rhythms is taken away to one of 49 concentration camps, bespoked in France for closer inspection. We are taken to one at the beginning of the film. Jews, gypsies, communists, Spaniards, every nationality is pushed together as suspected agents of pre collaborationist France. Meanwhile we see the French police act with both "could not care less," the journey in the van to a more intense zeal when they realise who Gerbier is, within the camp.

Escape is forever dominating the mind and taking chances in the mid period of collaboration entailed risks of being denounced as everyone had to play the double game, outward Vichy, inward freedom from constraint.

Later we learn Gerbier is denounced from the beginning taken from the camp he awaits his fate in the hotel. Interrogation and death is the outcome, either through beating or being sent East to be gassed. Each moment ticks, as he weighs up his chances, the suspended moments before having to act.

In the end the pull of life over power the feelings of inertia, he acts and he flees. The resistance is filled with moments of headbutting the partition wall of naked power, and often coming away battered bruised and life sentenced. French Collaborators and German Gestapo weed out those who do not wish to stay within the Vichy confines and this is the essence of the "game.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars the complete version of this Melville's masterpiece
This is the complete long version of the film (145 min.), very different from the italian very short version (100 min.). Read more
Published 12 months ago by spectator
2.0 out of 5 stars waste of money
What a waste of money, lousy storyline shot a lot of the time in the dark .sound very low ,I like a good ww2 spy or war film but this was one of the worse
Published 14 months ago by old bill
5.0 out of 5 stars a gift
A friend has been searching for this type of DVD for a while. This fits the bill perfectly, arriving within the estimated time.
Published 18 months ago by Mrs R Holian
4.0 out of 5 stars My Thoughts on this film
Being interested in WW11 and the Resistance as a part of it,I found it very interesting and a good film to look at again in the future
Published on 3 Jan 2012 by Graham R. Withers
4.0 out of 5 stars French films
This is an over-rated Melville film. I found it boring, frequently wooden and occasionally ridiculous. Read more
Published on 30 Sep 2011 by J. F. Pye
3.0 out of 5 stars Neither fish nor fowl
I came to this film with high expectations, given its critical acclaim. I expected a grim, realistic portrayal of life in the French resistance. Read more
Published on 28 Sep 2011 by R. Napier
5.0 out of 5 stars There is Nothing Shadowy About This Sledgehammer of a Film
"Army of Shadows," ("L'Armee des Ombres") (1969), clocks in at 145 minutes of classic French cinema, in color this time. Read more
Published on 24 Jun 2011 by Stephanie De Pue
5.0 out of 5 stars Army of shadows
Jean-Pierre Melville has produced one of the most tense and enthralling films ever made about the French Resistance and you really get a taste of the fear, oppression and... Read more
Published on 28 Feb 2011 by David Rowland
3.0 out of 5 stars Thin Germans, haircuts and double yellow lines
I was desperate to like this. Desperate. I guess it's still worth your attention. However, despite all the hype, I have to admit to some disppointment; the way the camera moves... Read more
Published on 15 Feb 2011 by Mario
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but flawed
I mostly enjoyed this film, it had a great atmosphere and it portrayed a very grim outlook of wartime from the characters concerned. Read more
Published on 24 Aug 2010 by Scott Fraser
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