Rialto Pictures | Release Date: April 28, 2006
8.0
USER SCORE
Generally favorable reviews based on 88 Ratings
USER RATING DISTRIBUTION
Positive:
68
Mixed:
14
Negative:
6
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10
ClayCSep 15, 2009
A truly great film. Your users that have given ARMY OF SHADOWS poor reviews seem not just ignorant of cinema, but, especially, ignorant of history. (They actually seem to be just plain ignorant, and very full of themselves.)
3 of 3 users found this helpful
10
J.RsoenbergMay 27, 2006
Riveting blockbuster that drew me in so persuasivly that afterward I felt I was still on the run from German soldiers in Paris in 1944.
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
KevinL.Jul 30, 2007
I was surprised to find that this film was made in 1969. It has aged v well. Coldly realistic, scary, moving, thought-provoking. A truly brilliant film. I didn't know the director before yesterday. I will look up his other films.
1 of 1 users found this helpful
6
JayCMay 28, 2006
As a movie this film did not give much emotion to the lives of these heros. If felt so devoid of human emotions (as if they were already dead) that it felt like one long dreary story. Maybe it was the way it was, but I expected some brief As a movie this film did not give much emotion to the lives of these heros. If felt so devoid of human emotions (as if they were already dead) that it felt like one long dreary story. Maybe it was the way it was, but I expected some brief moments of the love of life for which they were giving everything. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
AaronS.May 29, 2006
Better late than never. Melville's great 1969 film enjoys its first U.S. release this year. As such, it's the best film of 2006.
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
LarryR.Dec 26, 2006
Certainly the best movie I've seen in 2006; one of the best in the past 5 years. From the opening shot to the haunting ending, I couldn't get the movie out of my mind for weeks.
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
MichelF.Jul 26, 2006
Stunning, moving film by a true master. Those who complain about the slow pace have seen too many Hollywood crap or MTV garbage.
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
MatthewG.Dec 5, 2007
This film punched me in the chest and woke me up from my "modern cinema" induced coma. A masterpiece that captures humanity at it's best and worst.
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
ChristopherD.Jun 12, 2007
This is a well crafted, great collaboration. This movie is shot with more than just craft and the story line is unobtrusive as it takes you deep into a group of French resistors. The film does not take too much time showing how evil the This is a well crafted, great collaboration. This movie is shot with more than just craft and the story line is unobtrusive as it takes you deep into a group of French resistors. The film does not take too much time showing how evil the Nazi's are but treats it as a fact of life no matter how unbearable it might have been. It does not dwell on the many French who helped support the Nazi regime. Instead without being overly emotional we are still drawn into the emotions of the characters and threat they constantly faced. This is one of the greatest stories about courage I have ever seen. Worth your time and money and demands repeated viewings. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
JeanN.Apr 22, 2008
Simply the best film I have ever seen.
1 of 1 users found this helpful
9
brjorge2002Aug 20, 2010
The 99 metascore is a bit high, but the 8.1 user score is a bit low. This whole movie is very good, but there is one scene in particular (the attempt to break out a beaten associate) that really lives a strong feeling in the pit of your stomach.
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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5
AndrewO.Sep 24, 2007
"It's a white-knuckler all the way..." "a brilliant and relentless thriller..." "excruciatingly tense and never less than heartbreakingly human..." ??? I wish I had seen the movie these folks had seen, but guess I missed it. You'd "It's a white-knuckler all the way..." "a brilliant and relentless thriller..." "excruciatingly tense and never less than heartbreakingly human..." ??? I wish I had seen the movie these folks had seen, but guess I missed it. You'd have to be a Franco-cinemaphile of the first order to derive that much enjoyment from this movie. Or it may be a serious case of the emperor's new clothes, I'm not sure which. Apart from the admittedly fine cinematography, I found this film to be meandering, turgid and uninvolving. To each his own, I suppose, but beware the hype. Expand
2 of 3 users found this helpful
10
ryancarroll88Aug 27, 2010
This film is one of the darkest, uncompromising and unsettling movie products of the 1960s - a war movie with no bars and a moral prerogative as gray as the walls of the many prison cells we find the characters in.
2 of 3 users found this helpful21
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5
RobertJun 3, 2006
I don't understand why did the critics give this film such a high rating? To me it's just an average movie. It's slow & too long & at times it's difficult to follow.
1 of 2 users found this helpful
5
LewisP.Jan 1, 2007
There is very little I can add to John E's excellent review of "Army of Shadows". The film was extremely slow-paced and would have been a lot better if many scenes had been pared down. And there were also some scenes that were simply There is very little I can add to John E's excellent review of "Army of Shadows". The film was extremely slow-paced and would have been a lot better if many scenes had been pared down. And there were also some scenes that were simply too incredible to believe (for example when the protagonist (with the help of his confederates) escapes certain death by a German firing squad. This is just another example of how the the majority of critics can't think for themselves and feel safe by jumping on the bandwagon. Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful
5
ButteedPopcornJun 26, 2007
I agree entirely with all the others here that gave this film a 6 or lower. This film has its merits (beautiful imagery, well shot, superb acting), but it's slow for no apparent purpose, and lacks any directorial flare. It's just I agree entirely with all the others here that gave this film a 6 or lower. This film has its merits (beautiful imagery, well shot, superb acting), but it's slow for no apparent purpose, and lacks any directorial flare. It's just relentless, like a dirge rilled death march, that will just not break from its oppressive pacing for what seems like an eternity. The film takes a lot for granted. Be it assumed that these resistors have a passion for their cause, that it is a just cause, and that it is one worth sacrificing all for. But ultimately, the film lacked passion, and instead, was just over wrought with an oppressive sense of obligation, determination, and blind obedience to a cause. In many respects, a superb film, but it's sense of righteousness mired it down to the point where it became monotonous, tedious, and ultimately flat in the telling. That said, it is one hell of a dark, dismal vision that must have fairly well depicted what life had become for these Nazi resistors. Even so, the French still found a way to break for some wonderfully delightful lunches. Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful
10
JulianT.May 8, 2009
If you like cinema just as much as I do, you can do nothing but admit that this is probably one of the greatest movie ever... I don't get annoyed by those saying that this was too "slow" or so on... they don't have a clue about If you like cinema just as much as I do, you can do nothing but admit that this is probably one of the greatest movie ever... I don't get annoyed by those saying that this was too "slow" or so on... they don't have a clue about what "Cinema" really is. Thank you so much mister Melville. Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful
10
MikeT.May 17, 2006
Powerful, moving, hypnotic, and eerily modern.
1 of 2 users found this helpful
5
JohnE.May 25, 2006
Army of Shadows is a straight forward historical tribute drawn from the accounts written in a novel by Joseph Kessel. The drama is about the co-patriot activities of the French Resistance fighters in World War II. The film has been hailed as Army of Shadows is a straight forward historical tribute drawn from the accounts written in a novel by Joseph Kessel. The drama is about the co-patriot activities of the French Resistance fighters in World War II. The film has been hailed as a masterpiece by many critics, newspapers and magazines. This re-elease of the 1969 film directed by Jean-Pierre Melville is making its US debut in a superbly restored print overseen by the films cinematographer, Pierre Lhomme. The expectation with these superlative credentials of all combined is a film of taught dramatic suspense ranking with the great ones in cinema. Unfortunately, this is not the case. For me, it failed to capture the imagination as an exceptional cinematic effort that delivered both the technical aspects and story movement to give it, a best of all time ranking. Although many of the scenes are wonderfully drawn cinematically from a technical standpoint of near artistic perfection of cinematography, set design and the recreation of events, the film lacks pace, and wanders from character to character who give fine efforts trying to interpet a rambling story changing directions, many times, leaving the audience lost to a clear understanding of the narrative. The difficulty comes in knowing, in real life, many people did give their lives for country and the empathy one must feel for this sacrifice. The theme then does stay true to form but lacks the dramatic tension found in the earlier films of Andrej Wadja in Ashes and Diamonds and Kanal, on the same theme and accomplished with much greater success. The best that can be said is excellence was with in reach here but was slowed by a long drawn out, heavy, tiresome directing pace needing a sharp rhythmic flow of images that is lacking in the final representation. Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful
10
FlemmingK.Jun 15, 2006
Melville at his very best! Stunning!
1 of 2 users found this helpful
9
JustinS.Jun 30, 2006
An excellent, gritty movie that never loses sight of the fact that the members of the Resistance were above all human, not action movie stars. It does seem rather dreary and depressing and lacks emotion other than fear and exhaustion and it An excellent, gritty movie that never loses sight of the fact that the members of the Resistance were above all human, not action movie stars. It does seem rather dreary and depressing and lacks emotion other than fear and exhaustion and it doesn't give much sense of what the characters are thinking or feeling, but a terrific film nonetheless. Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful
10
TedP.Jul 1, 2006
Difficult to imagine that one can strip a series of perilous encounters down to their existential terror any better than Melville.
1 of 2 users found this helpful
10
J.WeeksNov 29, 2007
I fell in love with Melville's work when I first saw Le Samourai a year or two ago. He was the master of showing you rather than telling you and this film is no exception. It is true that this film may seem a little slow but there is so I fell in love with Melville's work when I first saw Le Samourai a year or two ago. He was the master of showing you rather than telling you and this film is no exception. It is true that this film may seem a little slow but there is so much under the surface that no one should be bored. I particularly loved the unspoken way that regular French people recognized the members of the resistance and helped them without a word. I loved that these were regular people, a mathematician, a civil engineer...they were not elite special forces. This story takes the glamor out of the resistance and that, to me, makes it all the more heroic. Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful
5
MerrillK.Jun 25, 2010
This movie is in need of serious editing. Good story, interesting from historical perspective. Unfortunately the film does not flow; characters get randomly introduced; I had no idea who the traitor that they strangled was - I thought he was This movie is in need of serious editing. Good story, interesting from historical perspective. Unfortunately the film does not flow; characters get randomly introduced; I had no idea who the traitor that they strangled was - I thought he was the guy who was with Phillipe in the prison camp. Did that guy get shot off screen? Why did the young guy give himself up to the Nazi's rather than try and break into the Gestapo HQ? Definitely not a Hollywood movie. But interesting story nonetheless. Expand
1 of 3 users found this helpful
3
AlyoshaM.Feb 15, 2008
I almost fell asleep watching this film. It has caused me to distrust the Metacritic ratings.
1 of 7 users found this helpful
6
JohnN.Jul 9, 2007
I kept hoping for the plot to move forward, but it never picked up pace. The acting and cinematography were top notched but the story, outside of 1 or 2 good scenes just didn't hold my attention for 2 1/2 hours. PS..Had trouble with the I kept hoping for the plot to move forward, but it never picked up pace. The acting and cinematography were top notched but the story, outside of 1 or 2 good scenes just didn't hold my attention for 2 1/2 hours. PS..Had trouble with the DeNiro and Shelly Winters French look alikes...!? Expand
0 of 1 users found this helpful
10
JoachimG.Jun 13, 2006
Simply a masterpiece!
0 of 1 users found this helpful
7
JohnC.Jul 9, 2006
Dak, literally, and surprisingly detached. Not the "must see" its rating would indicate.
0 of 1 users found this helpful
8
GuyE.Mar 28, 2007
It wasn't until 30 minutes into the film that I realized what I was watching; it wasn't what Graham Greene would call an 'entertainment.' This required the audience to participate, to fill in the blanks. When Lino has It wasn't until 30 minutes into the film that I realized what I was watching; it wasn't what Graham Greene would call an 'entertainment.' This required the audience to participate, to fill in the blanks. When Lino has just escaped from the Nazis and ducks into a barber shop to have his moustache shaved, and the still camera waits through the process to a soundless background, we have to reflect as Lino does. And wait as he does. And plan as he does. Army of Shadows, then, is more novel than *movie.* You try it on, walk around in it, wear it, see how it feels. It's remarkable, and yes, slow, and remarkable. Expand
0 of 1 users found this helpful
7
PhiloR.Jun 19, 2006
i read all the reviews and was so excited when i finally had the opportunity to see this movie. after being out for a couple of months the theater was packed on a friday afternoon! i was pretty dissappointed. How could a metacritic 10 be i read all the reviews and was so excited when i finally had the opportunity to see this movie. after being out for a couple of months the theater was packed on a friday afternoon! i was pretty dissappointed. How could a metacritic 10 be just a pretty good movie. not great, just ok my .02 Expand
0 of 1 users found this helpful
4
AndrewH.Dec 2, 2008
Would have been bearable if not for the extremely slow pace. I'd rather be "entertained" by Hollywood trash than to sit through something like this.
0 of 1 users found this helpful
5
TomPJun 25, 2009
I find it unfair for you to say that we do not know cinema. Maybe those who do not understand this movie simply don't understand cinema at the time of this movie's production, because by modern standards, there is very little drama I find it unfair for you to say that we do not know cinema. Maybe those who do not understand this movie simply don't understand cinema at the time of this movie's production, because by modern standards, there is very little drama or emotion, character development, or any character/ personality at all, excepting the men he meets at the beginning of the film in the concentration camp. Whether you'd like to admit it or not, it does move at an excruciatingly slow pace. We don't need to see people that we have no real feelings towards walking for overextended periods of time, because it is NOT building any sort of suspense. Also, the almost constant absence of music is unbearable, although you might not believe so until you actually see it. That, and the story itself is quite unremarkable. For it's time I can see what makes it great, by today's standards is is simply...good. No more. Expand
0 of 1 users found this helpful
4
GaryDJul 27, 2009
Beautiful, but frankly a bit of a snooze. I didn't find it an exercise in tension as many claim, but more an exercise in endurance.
0 of 1 users found this helpful
8
DQS.Jan 3, 2007
When I saw Army of Shadows 3 months ago I was underwhelmed. As a fan of director Jean-Pierre Melville, I had heard of this film for 20 years and was so excited to finally see this rare gem. On the way to the theater my head was filled with When I saw Army of Shadows 3 months ago I was underwhelmed. As a fan of director Jean-Pierre Melville, I had heard of this film for 20 years and was so excited to finally see this rare gem. On the way to the theater my head was filled with scenes from all of the great films of Melville and I was trying to imagine what sort of post-noir tough guy treat I'd be enjoying soon. What I got was not what I had expected. Where were the fetishized shots of raked hats, chorme plated 45's and the steel-faced men who sport them? This was something more akin to a 70's docu-drama meets Charles Bronson. Cold, straight, and natural lighting (no long shadows) - no Noir at all. I left very unsatisfied, not the film's fault, but completely due to expectations. This was something new and I was looking for tthe familiar. - - - It's been months and the Army of Shadows has kept popping back into my head. I think I see the film better now than when I was in the theater. The army of the title are not "in the shadows" they are the shadows themselves - walking "dead men" who no longer live "real" lives. In public they are spectral citizens unnoticed by the occupation. They must act by stoic rules that are at polar opposite of fantasy. Now, I appriecate the slow pasing, repressed humanity and absence of Noir trappings. This is a truthful look at fighters who cannot afford the luxury of fetish and passion. They are only shadows. Three months ago I would have given it 6 out of 10, today it's 8, next year after a few more viewings - maybe 9 or 10. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
8
JoseS.Aug 25, 2008
This is a very good film, and quite well filmed, but its a little slow and perhaps too long. The 99 avg from critics is way too high, but its still very good for its time and marks Melville as a major director; I want to see more of his.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
8
TimD.Oct 26, 2006
Stark, compelling, austere, engrossing, beautifully acted and directed. And, for me, about twenty minutes too long. If the running time had been more like two hours instead of 2:20, I would have given it a 10.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
Christopher_G2Jul 11, 2012
This is simply an amazing thriller/drama about the French resistance movement during world war 2. There are some scenes so tense they are hard to watch, and other scenes that are brilliantly poignant, and all of it is incredibly well acted.This is simply an amazing thriller/drama about the French resistance movement during world war 2. There are some scenes so tense they are hard to watch, and other scenes that are brilliantly poignant, and all of it is incredibly well acted. Melville at his top form. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful00
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9
SpangleAug 25, 2017
On the surface, there is not a lot of satisfaction in watching Army of Shadows. Set in the 1942, the French resistance runs operations against the Nazis that either outright fail, fizzle out, are aborted, or are minor victories. There is noOn the surface, there is not a lot of satisfaction in watching Army of Shadows. Set in the 1942, the French resistance runs operations against the Nazis that either outright fail, fizzle out, are aborted, or are minor victories. There is no climax or crescendo to these depictions. There is no honeymoon period with director Jean-Pierre Melville leaving no time for those in the resistance to lick their wounds or reveal in victory, instead dumping them in the next situation. There is no telling what will come around the bend for those in the resistance, instead they are doomed figures restricted to hiding in the shadows and await their own demise, all while fighting for the future of a Nazi-less France. Powerful, solemn, tragic, and cold, Melville's Army of Shadows continues to find supporters due to its stirring depiction of men and women uniting to fight for their country with no expectation of success, reward, or glory. Instead, they do it because they must, if their children are to ever know freedom.

Criticized for glorifying Charles de Gaulle by French critics in 1969, Army of Shadows wound up getting forgotten and only received an American release in 2006. The odd part, of course, is that De Gaulle is in one scene and, if anything, the film does anything but glorify the resistance. They are the heroes of this tale, yes, but Melville is entirely honest about the resistance. These are not wholly good men or women. Their cause may be a valid and heroic one, but their means and willingness to kill those who inform on them certainly calls into question just how truly "good" the members of the resistance are. Pitted against the Nazis, it is impossible to not root for the resistance, but Melville never shies away from those seedy elements that show the duality of evil on both sides of this conflict. Just because one side has a good cause does not mean all of the evil done in the name of the cause is entirely justified. While Melville himself had experience fighting with the resistance, even he recognize that the means used by the resistance were not always savory and worthy of praise, even if their cause was one in which he fully believed.

With cold, flat blues and grays adorning the film, it is impossible to not come away believing this to be a solemn and melancholy work. It thrills and keeps the viewer hooked, but beats you down with unrelenting bleakness. While these men and women lay their life on the line every day to free France from the Nazis, one thing is absolutely certain: they will all die. They are operating on a set clock that, at any moment, could end with them being caught and tortured. As a result, perhaps the only possible future for them that gives them any sense of relief or bliss is their ability to commit suicide via a cyanide capsule when they are caught. None of these characters live to see France liberated, nor do they expect to be able to see this event. Rather, they fight to advance that possibility and open the doors for others to finish what they have started. In many ways, their mission is just an elongated suicide mission. It is hopeless and it will kill them, but is more valuable to their country and fellow man than words could ever hope to describe.

Perhaps the most prevalent theme in the film is just how difficult it is to truly resist an oppressive government such as the Nazis. It is in this depiction that Army of Shadows reveals just how little it seeks to romanticize its heroes. Showing them murder people or escape capture just to put themselves in a position to have success on a mission, something inevitably goes wrong for this band of rebels. No matter what they do, no matter how perfectly thought out and executed, there is always some extenuating circumstance that necessitates their retreat or aborting of the mission. In large part, this is due to the overwhelming presence of the Gestapo. Like a band of stormy weather bearing down an unwilling city, it does not matter how prepared you because they will engulf you eventually. The resistance can hide in any number of shadows they want to, but the Nazis will always be right around the corner ready to arrest them, torture them, and let them wither away in a cell. It is the equivalent of standing in a room with the wall and ceiling closing in on you. There is no escape, but you sure as hell with try to fight against the wall before it crushes you.
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9
EpicLadySpongeMar 17, 2016
Army of Shadows is finally lovable and something almost godlike. If critics love this one, I bet users are going to have a great time watching this more than the critics.
0 of 0 users found this helpful00
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