Menu Film Forum
Part of the series
PREVIOUSLY PLAYED

ARMY OF SHADOWS

1:00

Wednesday, May 3

Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville

Starring Lino Ventura

(1969) Lino Ventura, aided by compatriots including maîtresse of disguise Simone Signoret, goes underground in face of the German Occupation. Not released here till 2006, it won the New York Film Critics award for Best Foreign Film that year. DCP restoration. Approx. 145 min.

Reviews

“The first and most beautiful cinematographic example of Gaullist art.”
– Jean-Louis Comolli

“Consistently frames the resistance against fascism as an act of conscience, far from stainless, and yet inevitable. Shadows, not heroes, are the protagonists of a film that never exalts them—predestined interpreters they are of a fate they did not choose. There is no victory waiting for them, only fatigue, loneliness and affliction.”
– Mubi

“A MASTERPIECE. Goes beyond noir pastiche to tell a wrenching story. It now feels like the movie Melville had spent his whole life preparing to make. [Melville’s] most deeply felt work.”
– John Powers, Vogue

“GRIM, KINETIC… A superb cinematic example of anti-heroic World War II revisionism. A movie definitive in both substance and attitude, suffused with Melville’s wartime experience and the singular noble outlaw sensibility that it produced in him.” 
– Jonathan Stevenson, Brooklyn Magazine 

“A rare work of art that thrills the senses and the mind… worthy of that overused superlative ‘masterpiece’.”
– Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“Lovers of cinema should reach for their fedoras and sneak to this picture through a mist of rain. You are in the hands of a master.”
– Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

“Approaches its pulse-quickening tale of life in the underground in the same exacting way Melville rendered so many stories of life in the underworld. As with the ascetic criminals he couldn’t resist mythologizing, Melville sees the brave rebels as steely men of action (and women, hence the unforgettable Simone Signoret), operating outside the law and according to their own strict codes, never allowing emotion to cloud their judgment. The result is a brilliant and relentless thriller, painted in Melville’s trademark shades of charcoal and midnight blue, marked by daring escapes, unimaginable moments of self-sacrifice and unconscionable acts of betrayal. At its center rests the granite-featured Ventura, his final meeting with a once-trusted compatriot on a Paris street a chilling reminder that, in wartime, even mercy is brutal.”
– Scott Foundas