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Mon Oncle d'Amerique
Mon Oncle d'Amerique
Actors: Gérard Depardieu, Nicole Garcia, Roger Pierre, Nelly Borgeaud, Pierre Arditi
Director: Alain Resnais
Genres: Indie & Art House
PG     2000     2hr 5min

Following a pair of films (Stavisky, Providence) that were more conventionally narrative than his explosively experimental early works (Hiroshima, Mon Amour, Last Year at Marienbad), French New Wave pioneer director Alain ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Gérard Depardieu, Nicole Garcia, Roger Pierre, Nelly Borgeaud, Pierre Arditi
Director: Alain Resnais
Creators: Henri Laborit, Sacha Vierny, Albert Jurgenson, Philippe Dussart, Jean Gruault
Genres: Indie & Art House
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House
Studio: New Yorker Video
Format: DVD - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 11/28/2000
Original Release Date: 12/17/1980
Theatrical Release Date: 12/17/1980
Release Year: 2000
Run Time: 2hr 5min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 9
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: French, French
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Poor DVD quality aside, this release is WELL worth the price
(5 out of 5 stars)

"There are certain directors whose films can survive even the worst video transfers, and Resnais is one of them. Not that New Yorker Video should not be chastized for giving us yet another scandalously poor video and audio transfer of a classic film. Rather, one should not let the poor DVD quality deter one from buying this DVD, as Resnais' MON ONCLE d'AMERIQUE is masterful and argueably the director's greatest achievement. To be completely honest, in my humble opinion Resnais is the greatest living director. For what it is worth, I have seen everyone of his feature films, including everything in the 80s and 90s, and I find this picture to be the most compelling. Having carried out his most rigorous investigation of the time and memory of personal consciousness in "Je T'aime, Je T'aime," Resnais' work in the 70s undergoes a gradual shift in emphasis toward a time and memory belonging to community. At the risk of sounding overly reductive, one might locate the decisive moment of this shift in "Providence," in which the radically subjective, stream of consciousness narrative is completely undermined in the film's epilogue. In reflecting on Mon Oncle d'Amerique, I think it is paramount that one sees the film in the context of this decisive shift (which is not to say that Resnais simply abandons his earlier project). The film produces some of the most extraordinary images of time and memory reconfigured from the standpoint of community, and argueably marks the director's crowning achievement. One need look no further than the opening sequence in which a camera circles around a canvas comprised of still shots from scenes in the film, such that already at the film's outset the viewer is confronted with an image of the whole. Having laid out this context, I strongly disagree with the general presupposition, betrayed in Maltin's summary and many of the customer reviews below, that Resnais has somehow attempted here to illustrate the behavorial theories of Henri Laborit. Resnais himself (in the DVD notes) expressly rejects this reading, which is nowhere corraborated by the film itself. He explains that in the film he has tried to set the biologist's theories and the narrative side by side, such that the two elements can co-exist, without either one dominating the other. The unmistably ambivalent tone of the ending testifies to the success with which Resnais has executed this vision. The superb direction and screenplay are supported by an outstanding score and an excellent cast. I cannot recommend this DVD more highly."
The erratic behavior of the human...
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 08/26/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Resnais' penchant for film as cognitive experience first and foremost here comes to the fore, although emotion is certainly on display as well. The three main characters of the film--an actress turned fashion industry stylist (Nicole Garcia), a media executive (Roger Pierre), and a textile middle manager (Gerard Depardieu)--all undergo changes in their lives that intertwine with the theories of human behavior put forth by Professor Henri Laborit, a famed French psychologist and scientist, who plays himself in the film.

Bearing in mind that the film was made in 1980 and that psychological theory has advanced significantly since then--largely founded on one after another breakthroughs in neurobiology/neurophysiology--this is nevertheless an entertaining piece of cinema whose theme is really how we respond to external circumstances--specifically, those that could potentially be very stressful.

For some people, a specific circumstance will be manageable; for others, it will be tremendously stressful. In this film, all three main characters respond to various experiences as very stressful ones, and consequently exhibit behaviors reflecting that: attempted suicide, psychosomatic illness, emotional outbursts. Laborit comments on the reason for this stress, which is primarily the inability to dominate (i.e., control) a situation. Regardless of new discoveries in neurophysiology, his statement is absolutely true, and Resnais fuses Laborit's voiceover discussion with interrelated events in the lives of the three main characters that illustrate the scientist's words.

Once in a while, Resnais gives human characters the heads of white lab rats to wittily capture Laborit's points (not for long; just a few seconds or so). Yet in spite of this visual cleverness, the dexterity of the lead actors embodying the emotional intensity they experience given certain changes in circumstance is truly skillful.

What's also interesting is that, early on, two of the three characters profess their love of past French film stars--in particular, Jean Marais and Jean Gabin. When each of these two (the Nicole Garcia character and the Gerard Depardieu character) are confronted with these changes in circumstance, Resnais cuts to a snippet of a scene from a film starring Marais (for Garcia) or Gabin (for Depardieu) in which the viewer can easily tell the emotion experienced by the older actor. This is, again, a clever cinematic device that adds to the film's richness.

Rated one of the best films of the 1980s by numerous film critics, Mon Oncle D'Amerique is a substantial piece of work that bears a number of viewings. It's easy to see why the critics voted this way.

Highly recommended."
Resnais' best film as far as I know.
Karl Ericsson | 116 65 Stockholm Sweden | 01/27/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I haven't seen 'Smoking and Non-Smoking' and not that singing film he did recently, but otherwise I'm pretty well informed about Resnais and amongst his other work I rank this film as being his best.It lacks many of the 'arty' touches, that Resnais otherwise and most regrettfully endulges in. This one tells it to you straight - most people live lives that resembles what rats do in captivity or otherwise. The comparison is most amusing but there is a very serious side to it as well. In the end Resnais states: "As long as we do not realize that we use the cortex of our brains chiefly in order to dominant others, then nothing can change." Power'full' (powerless really, since directed against power) words indeed. People break their necks in order to fit in or make a career, which in truth is as rediculous as when Stan Laurel speaks of it in that wonderful short "Their First Mistake". When will this madness of competition between people cease in order to leave room for a competition directed towards your own ability to enhance your consciousness instead? When will competition for competitions sake alone cease, a competition which does not even care about what it is competing about, as, for instance, present competition of market economy, which is just a competition about the 'skills' of cheating one another? That is the question and Resnais doesn't have the answer but at least he poses the question."
New Yorker Does well by Resnais
unhelpful | 12/06/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Finally! An affordable New Yorker home release! One of Alain Resnais' more accessible - and funny - films, "Mon Oncle d'Amerique" is also one of his last to find an American distributor. The transfer is less than scintillating, with a picture earning maybe a 2 or a 3 (5 being the highest rating), and the sound getting a 2 or lower. But New Yorker has "enhanced" the subtitles, making them yellow and enormous. Since this is a talkative movie, the subtitles often threaten to subsume the entire picture. But until Criterion deigns to remaster it (with optional subtitles), this is the best we could ask for."