France, 1942, during the occupation. Philippe Gerbier, a civil engineer, is one of the French Resistance's chiefs. Given away by a traitor, he is interned in a camp. He manages to escape, and joins his network at Marseilles, where he makes the traitor be executed. The film shows us rigorously and patiently the everyday of the French Resistants : their solitude, their fears, their relationships, the arrests, the forwarding of orders and their carrying out... Both writer Joseph Kessel and co-writer and director Jean-Pierre Melville(Le Circle Rouge) belonged to this "Army in the Shadows".
The film was patient, slow, long, yet boringly brilliant. The patience of every shot, the steady pace of the story, and the minute focus of every actor pin points the movie to a specific time and place in our worlds history.
"Shadow" is very very slow. That is my only complaint. Melville holds on scenes and shots so uncomfortably long that you find yourself going to the fridge for a drink and coming back without missing a single cut. This isn't a knock...just an ancient style almost long forgotten by todays celluloid.
With old movies like this its hard to find something to bash. They are brilliantly done and deeply entrenched into our cinematic history. There is something to learn from every scene and something borrowed from every shot.
The movie mirrors a time when fast editing and in and out action was a seed far from sown.
Army of Shadow is a very exhausting film to watch. If movies could be compared to school courses most would be classified under PE of lunch. "Shadows" is under history or English. You don't hate the classes but by god you are ready for some lunch by the time its over.