Quick-Thoughts: Jean-Pierre Melville’s Army of Shadows (1969)

Jean-Pierre Melville Binge Part III of IV 

Call it 50 Shades of Blue because in spite of all the traumatizing war stuff, this is one gorgeous-looking, color-commanding motion picture. Cinematography perfection 101 here. 

Sometimes marathoning a visionary’s central filmography in one zip is keenly enriching. As of now, it has been so interesting to see Melville go from Le Doulos to Le Samouraï and now to Army of Shadows. With the previous film (Le Samouraï) and the current picture I’m reviewing right at this very moment, there has been such a palpable improvement in directing and craftsmanship from the predecessor. 

Army of Shadows is an engrossing war drama that has a fascinating partake in its narration, important themes of self-sacrifice that should honestly be explored more in mainstream war movies, and the clutching excess of chasing enemy infiltrations. To sum it up, this is a film that’s guaranteed to be ingrained into my head for a long time. More madly, though, on a technical level, there is nothing I could possibly whimper about when it comes to Army of Shadows, as every approach in the camerawork, production, framing, acting, editing, visuals, and score are unapologetically avant-garde. And might I add, Melville is a master act at zoom shots—I’m a sucker for them, admittedly. 

First-time viewers, alas, may initially perceive Army of Shadows as an artistic entity that genuinely doesn’t know what it wants its plot to be centered around, marching back and forth and back and forth, attempting to be an anthology of intense World War II scenariosthat is until they proceed halfway through the film and realize that the facility of Melville’s statement is that it’s just an endless storm of war heroes addicted to the thankless game of violence. Besides, the brimmed journey that we spot our lead character Philippe Gerbier go on is enough for the movie to provoke a fruitfully continuous alignment of investment. Furthermore, the fact that the themes of the film stayed consistent throughout did too aid my principal objection that I find most first-time viewers will have with Army of Darkness

As far as war movies go though, this one is definitely something I’d, like a cliché, call “unique.” Cinephiles, check it out when you get the opportunity; it’s a powerhouse in genre rebelling. 

Oh, and the firing squad sequence—insanity! 

Verdict: A-

French New Wave Ranked 

“Army of Shadows” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu, iTunes, Google Play, and The Criterion Channel.

 

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