L’armée Des Ombres

Jean-Pierre Melville

T. It.: L’armata Degli Eroi; Sog.: Dal Romanzo Omonimo Di Joseph Kessel; Scen.: Jean-Pierre Melville; F.: Pierre Lhomme, Walter Wottitz (Riprese Aeree E Marittime); Mo.: Frantoi- Se Bonnot; Scgf.: Théobald Meurisse; Mu.: Eric De Marsan; Su: Jacques Carrère; Lnt.: Lino Ventura (Philippe Gerbier), Paul Meurisse (Luc Jardie), Jean-Pierre Cassel (Jean-Frantois Jardie), Simone Signoret (Mathilde), Claude Mann (Claude Ullmann, Detto “Le Masque”), Paul Crauchet (Félix), Christian Barbier (Guillaume Vermesch, Detto “Le Bison”), Serge Reggiani (Il Barbiere), Alain Libolt (Paul Dounat, Il Traditore); Prod.: Robert Dorfmann Per Les Films Corona (Paris)/Fono (Roma); Pri. Pro.: Parigi, 12 Settembre 1969; 35 Mm. D.: 135′.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

For more than twenty years the former partisan Jean-Pierre Grumbach – Melville’s real name – had wanted to adapt to the screen Joseph Kessel’s novel (published in 1943) to recall the underground struggle of the French Resistance. “I transformed a sublime story, a marvellous document on the Resistance, into a retrospective fantasy”. The third and final chapter of an ideal triptych on the Occupation (following Le silence de la mer, 1948, and Léon Morin, prètre, 1961), L’armée des ombres is a film under the melancholy sign of solitude, which dominated the condition of the partisans engaged in strategy and exposed to the incumbent and ever-present perils of betrayal. Solitude, the essential shade of the Melvillian poetic, is the obligatory condition of the cruel war against the occupier, which imposes upon the partisans the horror of transforming themselves into assassins of their own friends so that they do not betray them. As in the great films noir of Melville, the pace of the narrative alternates between tight action and disquieting waits, which often are the prelude to death, inflicted or instant. Notable is the sequence of the parade of the Nazi troops down the Champs- Elysées, as a solemn and funereal triumph. The Italian version was shamefully cut by 33 minutes, and the same was to happen to Melville’s next film, Le cercle rouge (1970).

Roberto Chiesi

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