L'armée des ombres - Army of Shadows (1969)

I thought if I watch one or two World War II movies, that will be enough. I figured all will be the same; the same rise and fall, the same way of penetrating the enemy org structure, there would be nothing new. The devastation would be hard to watch and it would question my subconscious if people can really be this cruel! I'm sure if you've seen enough of these films, you'll start to feel the same way about them. Yet I came across something that revealed to me what I have not thought of before. L'armée des ombres - Army of Shadows (1969) is a film such as this. When you feel you have seen it all in all the WWII films, this may change your mind.

L'armée des ombres(1969)


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Lately, I have not described the plot at all, but I never miss out on character analysis. I always say what comes to mind about the characters and there I give out a little bit of what the film is about. It's a sneak peek at the Vichy France and the French Resistance. The film is a World War II suspense-drama film written and directed by Jean-Pierre Melville with and Lino Ventura, Simone Signoret, Paul Meurisse, and Jean-Pierre Cassel in major roles. I'm not sure if anyone could be called a lead here as each of the characters played a very significant role.


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If anyone was picked as the lead, it would be Philippe Gerbier played by Lino Ventura. He portrays the character of an influential member of the Resistance, fearless, he can be seen as the second in command. Working closely with the first in command, he too has his own share of strategies with his priority set on what's best for his people. It's not only him that had to make the most difficult decisions, his associates too. From getting rid of a traitor to escape plans to leave a comrade behind to willing embrace death, there was no shortage of tough choices.

Jean-François Jardie (Cassel), a former pilot was recruited for covert operations. He has his own set of principles and his loyalty to his friend Félix and idolizing his elder brother were evident. Although being a crucial member and helped the first in command get to the Free French headquarters, but was completely clueless that it was his brother Luc Jardie (Meurisse).

I didn't find it surprising that Luc Jardie was the first in command, he held a certain dignity and masked authority; one would say that he had a mysterious aura around him but I would disagree. It probably was his philosophical mind and with such ease, he commanded his associates, made him appear to be a great commander.


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There is also one character that stood out in the film and that was Mathilde (Signoret). She was phenomenal with her own demons to fight. Regardless, she's a great strategist and always comes up with escape plans for her fellow associates as well as other strategies that the Resistance could benefit from. It may not come as a shock that all the characters have died in the end. Though Gerbier and few others were alive their death was mentioned in the end.

Marching Band

I have always believed, there is no winning side or losing side in a war, there's only destruction and mass murder. The film hasn't changed that perspective although I can imagine that if you believe in a cause then you're willing to go to extreme lengths to see it through.


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My first thought was that the movie is very slow-paced, there are fewer dialogues for a film of such length. The surroundings, and characters' positions, and the thoughts that flooded their minds were most important when it came to narrating the movie. They were the army of the shadows, inconspicuous, hid in plain sight. Just when you think they'd get caught, they didn't and when you think they escaped, they got trapped instead.


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It was almost as if they're pulling you to be one of the characters and see through their eyes. You can see how the situation presented itself in front of the characters and how they played it. Some take up cruel decisions just because they can and some do it out of necessity. Through anguish, through loyalty, through comradery to achieve something greater than a possibility.

When you feel that you have seen it all, you may have thought it wrong.

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