Jean-Pierre Melville

Army of Shadows

Army of Shadows

This masterpiece by Jean-Pierre Melville about the French Resistance went unreleased in the United States for thirty-seven years, until its triumphant theatrical debut in 2006. Atmospheric and gripping, Army of Shadows is Melville’s most personal film, featuring Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and the incomparable Simone Signoret as intrepid underground fighters who must grapple with their conception of honor in their battle against Hitler’s regime.

Film Info

Special Features

  • High-definition digital transfer of the 2004 restoration, supervised by director of photography Pierre Lhomme, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Optional Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 soundtrack (DVD edition); optional DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack (Blu-ray edition)
  • Audio commentary featuring film historian Ginette Vincendeau
  • Interviews with Lhomme and editor Françoise Bonnot
  • On-set footage and excerpts from archival interviews with director Jean-Pierre Melville, cast members, writer Joseph Kessel, and real-life Resistance fighters
  • Jean-Pierre Melville et “L’armée des ombres” (2002), a short program on the director and his film
  • Le journal de la Résistance (1944), a rare short documentary shot on the front lines during the final days of German-occupied France
  • Film restoration demonstration by Lhomme
  • Theatrical trailers
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by critic Amy Taubin and historian Robert O. Paxton, as well as excerpts from Rui Nogueira’s Melville on Melville

    New cover by Michael Boland

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • High-definition digital transfer of the 2004 restoration, supervised by director of photography Pierre Lhomme, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Optional Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 soundtrack (DVD edition); optional DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack (Blu-ray edition)
  • Audio commentary featuring film historian Ginette Vincendeau
  • Interviews with Lhomme and editor Françoise Bonnot
  • On-set footage and excerpts from archival interviews with director Jean-Pierre Melville, cast members, writer Joseph Kessel, and real-life Resistance fighters
  • Jean-Pierre Melville et “L’armée des ombres” (2002), a short program on the director and his film
  • Le journal de la Résistance (1944), a rare short documentary shot on the front lines during the final days of German-occupied France
  • Film restoration demonstration by Lhomme
  • Theatrical trailers
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by critic Amy Taubin and historian Robert O. Paxton, as well as excerpts from Rui Nogueira’s Melville on Melville

    New cover by Michael Boland
Army of Shadows
Cast
Lino Ventura
Philippe Gerbier
Paul Meurisse
Luc Jardie
Simone Signoret
Mathilde
Jean-Pierre Cassel
Jean-François
Claude Mann
Le masque
Paul Crauchet
Félix
Christian Barbier
Le bison
Credits
Director
Jean-Pierre Melville
Screenplay
Jean-Pierre Melville
Producer
Jacques Dorfmann
Cinematography
Pierre Lhomme
Screenplay
Joseph Kessel
Based on the novel by
Joseph Kessel
Art direction
Theobald Meurisse
Sound
Jacques Carrère
Sound
Alex Pront
Sound
Jean Neni
Editing
Françoise Bonnot
Sound editing
Robert Pouret

From The Current

Melville’s French Resistance
Melville’s French Resistance
Jean-Pierre Melville’s film Army of Shadows (1969) gives a dramatic account of the extreme dangers faced by the French who resisted the German occupation of 1940–1944. The time of the story is unspecified, but it is probably 1943, late enough …

By Robert O. Paxton

Pat Healy’s Top 10
From the Melville Archives
From the Melville Archives

On the ninety-ninth anniversary of Jean-Pierre Melville’s birth, we’ve gathered a selection of essays, photos, and videos that showcase the best of the iconic director’s varied oeuvre.

Explore

Jean-Pierre Melville

Writer, Director

Jean-Pierre Melville
Jean-Pierre Melville

Though remembered now primarily for his intense, spare 1960s gangster films, French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville had a startlingly varied career, encompassing wartime dramas, psychosexual character studies, and a collaboration with Jean Cocteau. Jean-Pierre Grumbach (he would eventually change his name to Melville to honor the American author of Moby Dick) fought during World War II, first in the French army and then in the Resistance; those experiences would often inspire his work to come. After the war ended, he pursued his love of film with dogged obsession. Though a lover of classical studio directors (William Wyler and John Huston among them), Melville worked mostly independently, even building his own studio. It was this fierce do-it-yourself attitude, and such startling, uncompromising films as Les enfants terribles and Bob le flambeur, that appealed to the filmmakers of the French New Wave, who adopted Melville as a godfather of sorts (Godard even famously gave him a cameo in Breathless). During the New Wave, however, Melville went his own way, making highly idiosyncratic crime films—classically mounted if daringly existential—that were beholden to no trend, including Le doulos, Le deuxième soufflé, and Le samouraï. His most personal movie was Army of Shadows, which, though misunderstood upon its initial French release in 1969, is now widely considered a masterpiece. Melville died of a heart attack in 1973 at the age of fifty-five.