Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Vive la Resistance

Just got back from the 1969 movie "Army of Shadows" at Film Forum. The film tells the story of some members of the French Resistance whose near-death experiences extend far beyond my own usually-impressive stories of Maine-rapids-mishaps and South Side Chicago adventures. The movie is fascinating, the acting and scenery stellar, and the men and clothes beautiful (Jean-Pierre Cassel in a leather jacket is no less impressive than a similarly-attired Lior Ashkenazi, although the French have the Israelis beat in terms of the leather jacket design itself). You definitely get a sense of what it must have been like to live in German-occupied France as a non-collaborator and not be able to escape, no matter what.

Two things in particular struck my viewing companion and myself--it's never explained why this group of people felt moved to join the Resistance, and almost no actual resistance is ever shown, just a lot of shuffling fellow resistance members from place to place and getting them out of prison. The group is quite talented at saving its own, but inflicts no damage on the Nazi occupiers except in self-defense. It's implied that the Resistance is a cause worth dying for, but beyond fighting for their own freedom as individuals to live in a French France, it's unclear what these heros are looking to achieve.

The only problem with "Army of Shadows" was the woman sitting behind us. She found each turn of the plot immensely confusing, and rather than wait the two minutes to let the movie spell things out, she loudly asked the man next to her what was going on. She also gasped and spoke out loudly whenever anything violent happened. If you react like this to movies with violence, it's probably best to steer clear of anything with "army" in the title or anything about Nazis, at least until it comes out on DVD. Because that seems to be what's happened, people are used to watching movies at home, and forget that the comments your spouse finds acceptable or even charming are of no interest to anyone else in the theater. Unless the movie is really awful and begs for mocking, but this one was spectacular. I'm not sure what this says about whether I'd have been brave enough to be in the Resistance, but the best I could come up with to let this woman know I'd heard enough was to turn halfway around in my chair and hope she got the idea.


Anonymous said...

Saw it. People talking during movies is my biggest pet peeve. How great was that scene with the firing squad?

Anonymous said...

As an Annie Hall fan you should already know the answer as to whether or not you'd be a good resistance fighter.