• A masterful war/spy film told with intelligence and a distinct tone (through Melville’s mature style)— and draped in a jaw-droppingly beautiful and consistent mise-en-scene of muted blues, grays, and midnight indigo day-for-night shots
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day-for-night shots
  • Opens with an impressive prologue—German soldiers goose-stepping past the Arc de Triomphe—Melville fills the entire frame
  • Meticulous in the visual design from the color palette chosen by Melville, to the rain and night sequences
just after the opening credits– clearly setting the visual tone- a gorgeous wall-art shot here
  • The score sounds a little like a precursor to John Carpenter’s Halloween
  • Greys, blues, very bleak to match the mood— from the sweaters and scarfs to the wood in the furniture and clearly fussed over background dilapidated buildings
  • Melville’s trademark masculine stoicism—war games
  • We get 3 separate voice-over narrators—first the Vichy prison warden (which sort of sets up that it’s going to move around a little because he’s out of the film quickly) to the main protagonist Lino Ventura and then later to Jean-Pierre Cassel
  • Steely cold sapphire day for night sequences – stunning
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blue night lighting — remarkable
  • Certainly would make a good pairing with Spielberg’s Munich though Melville’s work is superior
  • Patient in the storytelling—again—atmospheric—but the whole time you’re just mesmerized by the detail in the visual design
  • A great shot framing the doors as Ventura is waiting to be tortured—there’s a German at the very back of the frame so we have three depths of field
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A great shot framing the doors as Ventura is waiting to be tortured—there’s a German at the very back of the frame so we have three depths of field
  • There’s more time spent on the anxiety of whether the barber is going to rat him out (he ends up handing him a trench coach which is a Melville signature) than the murder that just took place
  • Even the drapes at the house for the excruciating execution of the turncoat are clearly hand-picked by Melville and his production design two
  • I couldn’t find the shot but there’s a gorgeous mise-en-scene with two men, two chairs, and two open doors- carefully arranged- it would’ve made Ozu proud
this isn’t the shot I mention just above here but it’s close– another stunner, the men playing cards, the open door,
  • The night scenes are all paintings—the cove sequence in particular
The night scenes are all paintings—the cove sequence in particular
  • Gone With the Wind in the text
  • and the brief scene with actor portraying de Gaulle (reported a big reason why the film was rarely seen at all in 1969 upon release)
  • a marvelous dialogue-less sequence when Ventura is inspired (or perhaps that’s only my reading) by the British in London as they do not blink at all during a raid. They are dancing and walking down the streets. Or perhaps Ventura views them as naïve.
  • The framing of the body slumped over the chair handcuffed—it’s repeated again with Jean-Pierre Cassel
repetition on imagery- near the beginning of the film
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near the end
  • James Sanford  –Kalamazoo Gazette “Although it has several suspenseful sequences, “Shadows” is not a spy thriller, precisely. It’s much more along the lines of a melancholy mood piece”
  • The visual design is consistent with Le Samourai – desaturated—primary colors would look incredibly out of place- Very Eastwood 2000’s decade Million Dollar Baby-ish
  • The screenplay in spots—perfection “What a strange carousel”—I found this to be devastating
  • In many ways a war film with no battles—plenty of trench coats—which is perfect for Melville
  • A stunner of a shot of a hallway in the prison—reminded me of the hotel in WKW’s In the Mood For Love shot
A stunner of a shot of a hallway in the prison—reminded me of the hotel in WKW’s In the Mood For Love shot
  • the gut-punch epilogue with how they all died. Cyanide, torture, decapitated…
  • the formal ending- bookends Arc de Triomphe—
  • Ebert “As one of his films after another is rediscovered, Melville is moving
    into the ranks of the greatest directors. He was not much honored in
    his lifetime.”
  • MS/MP