Army of Shadows
(L’armée des ombres)

Pierre Lhomme in person
Screening on Film
$12 Special Event Tickets
Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville.
With Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Simone Signoret.
France, 1969, 35mm, color, 145 min.
French and German with English subtitles.

Based on a 1943 Joseph Kessel novel as well as director Jean-Pierre Melville’s own experiences during World War II, Army of Shadows is a mesmerizing and haunting portrait of the Resistance in occupied France, for whose members paranoia, betrayal and the possibility of imprisonment, torture and execution are the stuff of everyday life. Melville’s mastery of the crime thriller and a complete absence of sentimentality combine to deliver a film both suspenseful and thoughtful, at once a celebration of heroism and a meditation on death and defeat. Pierre Lhomme had to struggle to convince Melville of his naturalistic lighting scheme, but Melville’s attention to realism combined with Lhomme’s insistence on a cool, desaturated color scheme results in some of the most beautifully bleak images ever captured on film.

Army of Shadows introduction and post-screening discussion with Haden Guest and Pierre Lhomme. ©Harvard Film Archive

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