Les Armee des Ombres(Army of Shadows) (1969)
Directed and Written by Jean Pierre Melville
From the Novel by Joseph Kessel

His resistance fighters have the swagger of thugs because, well, they are thugs, with the same fatal delusion, the same purity of purpose- - - amounts to the same thing, really. Obvious from how the genre shift is more apparent chronologically but not emotionally, Melville's time in the resistance gave his gangster inversions its contours and while none of us are obliged to look at them in this new metaphorical light, it does oblige us to recognize that what we have here is that same world of clandestine duplicity and shadowy code and misplaced honor we've come to expect from him, except maybe for the diminished rogue glamour. That tends to amp up futilities ,though, and amps up claustrophobic overbear even more . . . in the ugly and messy languor of executing a traitor without a bullet , in that dirty hand clasping its rescuer's in relief evoking the desperate isolation of fighting for a cause, and in how every spasm of derring-do - - -an escape sequence that happens in a tic of brutality, another that happens in the thick of smoke- - -is upset eventually by painstaking failure. Wonderful and depressing and rubbed raw until you have nothing but the violent gleam of bone. 


Noel Vera said...

It's a great, great film, innit? I liked especially the attempt rescue via ambulance, and how they react when it fails.

dodo dayao said...

Yeah - - - and the guy inside giving his cyanide pill to the guy they were trying to rescue. You seen Melville's Les Enfants Terible by any chance? That's next for me.

Noel Vera said...

Not yet. Plan to, though.

mads said...

hi, would you know where in manila makakahanap ng DVDs ni JP Melville? I only have "Le Cercle Rouge." Salamat.

dodo dayao said...

Helo mads. I'm not sure when you posted your comment so if this is as late as I think it is, soooo sorry. I'm having trouble as it is updating so you understand if I don't check old posts for comments.

At any rate, MCS and Metrowalk and Q are currently awash in Melvilles: Army of Shadows, Le Samourai, Bob le Flambeur, Le Silence De La Mer and if what I heard was right ,Les Enfants teribles just came out last night. Hope that helps.