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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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.
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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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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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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
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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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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
MikeT.May 17, 2006
Powerful, moving, hypnotic, and eerily modern.
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
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
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
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