Army of Shadows (L'Armée des ombres) (1969) - Rotten Tomatoes

Army of Shadows (L'Armée des ombres)1969

Army of Shadows (L'Armée des ombres) (1969)



Critic Consensus: Originally made in 1969, this recently reissued classic is a masterful examination of the inner workings of the World War II resistance efforts.

Army of Shadows (L'Armée des ombres) Photos

Movie Info

In this war drama set during the French Resistance of WW II, a courageous fighter escapes Gestapo headquarters and returns to Marseille. There he and his gang capture a traitor and throttle him. They then try to rescue a Resistance fighter in Lyons. As they do so, the hero is again captured and his partner killed. Again the hero escapes just before he is executed. He then finds that a female partner has been captured. To avoid having her daughter forced to work in a Nazi brothel, the woman has informed upon the others. She is then released and subsequently killed by another Resistance fighter for revenge. The screenplay is based on Joseph Kessel's novel and became filmmaker Jean Pierre Melville's magnum opus. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

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Lino Ventura
as Philippe Gerbier, Gerbier
Paul Meurisse
as Luc, Luc Jardie
Jean-Pierre Cassel
as Jean-Francois, Jean-François Jardie
Serge Reggiani
as Barber, Le coiffeur
Claude Mann
as Le Masque
Christian Barbier
as Guillaume Vermersch dit Le Bison, Le Bison
Paul Crauchet
as Felix Lepercq, Felix
Alain Dekock
as Legrain
Alain Libolt
as Dounat, Paul Dounat
Alain Mottet
as Le commandant du camp, Commander of the camp
Marco Perrin
as Octave Bonnafous
Jean-Marie Robain
as Baron de Ferte-Talloire
Georges Sellier
as Col. Jarret
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Critic Reviews for Army of Shadows (L'Armée des ombres)

All Critics (75) | Top Critics (30)

Watch it a hundred times and the dread, bad-dream opening sequence of Nazi troops swarming through the Arc de Triomphe might still leave you reeling...

April 1, 2020 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

"Jean-Pierre Melville cherishes paradox and free thinking," and both elements are on beautiful display in his masterpiece.

January 12, 2011 | Full Review…

As close to a masterpiece as any film you're likely to see this year.

August 17, 2007 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

A film to be seen and savored for its moral magnitude.

April 25, 2007 | Full Review…

From the first sight of German soldiers goose-stepping past the Arc de Triomphe to a postscript that spells out the fate of characters whose moral confusion is all too real, Army of Shadows is a movie of its time -- and ours.

January 18, 2007 | Rating: 4/4

Unlike the romantic images of freedom fighters perpetuated by the popular media, Melville's movie is stripped of self-congratulatory hero worship and other puffery.

November 18, 2006 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Army of Shadows (L'Armée des ombres)

The French Resistance is where this examination begins but there's not a single scene showing a train being blown up or lines being furtively cut in the dead of night ... rather it's a look at the interior damage wrought when choosing to resist tyranny at all, the isolation, the loneliness, the agonizing fear of trusting yourself. Must see.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Unembellished and matter-of-fact. Melville masterfully spotlights the French Resistance without martyring the Nazi regime that spawned it.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer


a great depiction of french resistance, melville blends substance with his usual stylistic approach. the film falters at many points with a lack of clarity and direction to the shifty plot, and the film is almost entirely without emotion, but it has striking images and flawless direction in its portrayal of horrific events. overall very good film.

danny d
danny d

Super Reviewer

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