Jean-Pierre Melville

Army of Shadows

Army of Shadows

The most personal film by the underworld poet Jean-Pierre Melville, who had participated in the French Resistance himself, this tragic masterpiece, based on a novel by Joseph Kessel, recounts the struggles and sacrifices of those who fought in the Resistance. Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and the incomparable Simone Signoret star as intrepid underground fighters who must grapple with their conception of honor in their battle against Hitler’s regime. Long underappreciated in France and unseen in the United States, the atmospheric and gripping thriller Army of Shadows is now widely recognized as the summit of Melville’s career, channeling the exquisite minimalism of his gangster films to create an unsparing tale of defiance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds

Film Info

Special Features

  • High-definition digital restoration, supervised by director of photography Pierre Lhomme, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Alternate 2.0 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary from 2006 featuring film scholar Ginette Vincendeau
  • Interviews from 2007 with Lhomme and editor Françoise Bonnot
  • On-set footage and excerpts from archival interviews with director Jean-Pierre Melville, cast members, author Joseph Kessel, and real-life Resistance fighters
  • Jean-Pierre Melville et “L’armée des ombres” (2005), 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 the German occupation of France
  • Restoration demonstration by Lhomme
  • Trailers
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Amy Taubin, along with (for the Blu-ray) a piece by historian Robert O. Paxton and excerpts from Rui Nogueira’s Melville on Melville

Cover by Michael Boland

Purchase Options

Coming soon, available Apr 7, 2020

Special Features

  • High-definition digital restoration, supervised by director of photography Pierre Lhomme, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Alternate 2.0 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary from 2006 featuring film scholar Ginette Vincendeau
  • Interviews from 2007 with Lhomme and editor Françoise Bonnot
  • On-set footage and excerpts from archival interviews with director Jean-Pierre Melville, cast members, author Joseph Kessel, and real-life Resistance fighters
  • Jean-Pierre Melville et “L’armée des ombres” (2005), 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 the German occupation of France
  • Restoration demonstration by Lhomme
  • Trailers
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Amy Taubin, along with (for the Blu-ray) a piece by historian Robert O. Paxton and excerpts from Rui Nogueira’s Melville on Melville

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

Jean-Pierre Melville, My Father in the Art
Jean-Pierre Melville, My Father in the Art

Veteran French director Bertrand Tavernier reflects on how one of his greatest mentors fused two seemingly contradictory influences—that of the Resistance and of American genre filmmaking—into a remarkably cohesive body of work.

By Bertrand Tavernier

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.