Jean-Pierre Melville is better known for his masterpiece Le Cercle Rouge and his unique depiction of the French underworld, gangsters, murderers, bank robbers, and the police trailing them. In Army of Shadows, a slow and minimalist movie from 1969, Melville follows a small group of Resistance fighters as they go about their daily life setting up and conducting different missions in the occupied and free zone of France. He uses psychological tension to create a powerful rendition of the constant fear, doubt, and loneliness that were the daily bread of those unpretentious World War II heroes. Played by an outstanding cast of leading actors /actresses among which Lino Ventura (Le Deuxième Souffle), Paul Meurisse (Les Tontons Flingueurs) and Simone Signoret (Les Diaboliques), these men and women, through their complete devotion to their cause and leader, Luc Jardie, are successively either being tortured or torturing others, ultimately becoming victims in their fight for freedom.
Based on the 1943
novel by Joseph Kessel, Army of Shadows is being released for the first
time in the United States following extensive restoration work.