army of shadows

August 7, 2008

before i say anything about army of shadows, let me explain briefly my prolonged absence (if you don’t know already). for the first week and a half of july i was in mexico doing mission work, and when i return home i find that the dvd player is no longer working. normally i would just pop the dvd into my laptop, but it just seem to want to play dvds anymore…..especially dvds from the library. so after a few weeks of no movie watching at home i’ve made the return to the sofa to watch some classics. and this was a classic.

one of my favorite films i have watched as part of this 4films thingy. great from the opening shot, to the final epilogue. just a very visually interesting film to watch, greatly acted, and i think the structure held up really well. i wasn’t sure what was happening at first, the film sort of darts in and out from different character’s point of view, but stuck with it and i think it actually is one of the stronger points to the film.

thematically it reminded me a lot of the lives of others, in the sense that they both pry at this idea of what lengths people will go to preserve something. the way the film handles the inter struggles each character comes across with is phenomenal. we see character after character reach a point where they have to make difficult choices about whether to succumb to nazi pressure or their own weak mindedness, or fight on to preserve their freedom.

i love that the film is shot using moments of real time. like when a character walks from inside a building to a car you would expect a cut somewhere in between. man walks out of building….cut….man stands next to car. but melville keeps the camera rolling and takes in the whole event in real time. it takes the man a good minute/minute and a half to walk to the car and it heightens the suspense as to what’s going to happen once he gets there. there are many moments like this throughout the film where melville will just linger a minute longer than most directors would and it creates such tension in those scenes. it’s also a decidedly quite film. not a lot of dialogue, not a lot of music. the film uses editing and facial expression to deliver most of the information and the character’s struggles

so to summarize, a truly great film.

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