Army of Shadows (1969)

Dir. Jean-Pierre Melville

This film was recently re-released last year or the year before that. The critics raved about this. I thought it was OK, but I didn’t think it lived up to the hype. I’d be surprised if any other idiot really ended up loving this, but a few of you may find it interesting, maybe even moving.

The film feels like a collection of anecdotal stories about the French Resistance during WWII. Melville was a part of the Resistance, and the book is based a memoir.

I appreciate the fact that the film avoids simple villians and heroes. If there are villians, they are portrayed with some level of sympathy and the heroes are not glorified. Indeed, the strongest feeling one gets from many of the characters is sadness. What we see are people who had to make tough decisions–whether to continue to fight and be loyal or save one’s own skin.
I almost want to describe the film as a slice-of-life, and I think that’s the part I didn’t care for. We have episodes that don’t seem strongly connected. The overall objective seems to be to depict what it was like to be in the Resistance rather than follow characters in a conventional narrative. For some reason that left me a little dissatisfied.

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