Kick-Back Friday: #132
I’m not sure how Jean-Pierre Melville does it, but the director is somehow able to build tension and emotion in the most unhurried series of shots. Part of his success lies in the faces of his actors, including Lino Ventura and Simon Signoret, who have the intangible ability to engage while doing very little. But Melville also capitalizes on his actors’ gifts by thoughtfully sewing together still, or very nearly still, frames to authenticate a moment. Case in point is one scene in Army of Shadows (1969), a stark, uncompromising story of French Resistance leaders, in which two thrown-together “patriots” on a bench conspire silently, or nearly so, to kill their German guard and escape a Gestapo interrogation.