Army of the Shadows (L'armée des ombres)

Cert 12A

For many, the definitive film about the French Resistance, of which Melville had been a member. Starring Lino Ventura, Simone Signoret, Paul Meurisse and Jean-Pierre Cassel, it’s “a film … of extraordinary restraint and power” (Geoff Andrew, BFI Southbank).The questions of honour, loyalty and courage in the face of torture are handled in ways that may leave you wondering about the ethics of war and how you would have behaved long after the screening. (145 mins)
Dir: Robert Melville, France 1969


“Excellent film!”

“Very moving”

“Very, very moving – what they did for ‘la liberté'”

“So moving, so sad, so brave”

“Gripping, powerful and ultimately sad”

“Thank you for choosing this unmissable film.”

“Courage, conviction and consequences. I believed every difficult decision they had to make. Very moving.”

“I was totally engrossed – brilliant.”

“Probably the most terrifying film I have ever seen.”

“Incredibly cold and terrifying atmosphere. Music added (to this, as did) the lack of colour.”

“All totally credible. The moral complications were well explored.”

“Intelligent, effective, with only occasional [and excusable] moments of sentimentality. I liked the (slow) pace of the film.”

“Absolutely taut. The near-monochrome grey colouring perhaps reflecting the ‘feldgrau’ of the German uniforms. Several time-slips, though – double yellow lines in Whitehall in 1942?”

“Overpowering. Plot rather disjointed at first but came together later. Brilliant acting, atmosphere, sense of fervour and determination. What decisions those people had to make. It was TOO COLD in here tonight!”

“I enjoyed the pace (of the film) – the subject needed nothing more. 20mins. too long, though.”

“Showed exactly how difficult and dirty a job they had to do. Shame about the double yellow lines!”

“Interesting insight into the resistance movement”

“Much of this was brilliant but I could not suspend disbelief for the escape from the firing squad (scene).”

“A powerful and dramatic antidote to ‘Allo ‘Allo! The rescue episodes were hardly believable but it was fiction in spite of the factual-seeming ‘chapter’ titles, eg 1st Feb. 1943 – killed by Gestapo.”

“Very stage-like. Wonderful evocation of (war-time) atmosphere although plot was a bit hard to believe.”

“Rather disappointing. It lacked the continuity and context of the original book and failed to show the tensions and arguments between the various Maquis in a political context.”

“Moving but too slow and lacked plausibility in several places.”

“Somehow not quite enough of anything”

“B but too depressing”

” Three films in a row with horror and tension (in them). Not a good idea! Yellow lines in 1942?”


A:29, B:17, C:6, D:0, E:0 to give 86%