7.8/10
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My American Uncle (1980)

Mon oncle d'Amérique (original title)
The intersecting stories of three people who face difficult choices in life-changing situations are used to illustrate the theories espoused by Henri Laborit about human behavior and the relationship between the self and society.

Director:

Alain Resnais

Writers:

Jean Gruault (scenario and dialogue), Henri Laborit (writings)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 11 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gérard Depardieu ... René Ragueneau
Nicole Garcia ... Janine Garnier
Roger Pierre ... Jean Le Gall
Nelly Borgeaud ... Arlette Le Gall
Pierre Arditi ... Zambeaux, le représentant de la direction générale à Paris
Gérard Darrieu Gérard Darrieu ... Léon Veestrate
Philippe Laudenbach ... Michel Aubert
Marie Dubois ... Thérèse Ragueneau
Henri Laborit Henri Laborit ... Self
Bernard Malaterre Bernard Malaterre ... Le père de Jean
Laurence Roy Laurence Roy ... La mère de Jean
Alexandre Rignault ... Le grand-père de Jean / Jean's Grandfather
Véronique Silver Véronique Silver ... La mère de Janine
Jean Lescot Jean Lescot ... Le père de Janine
Geneviève Mnich Geneviève Mnich ... La mère de René
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Storyline

Prof. Henri Laborit uses the stories of the lives of three people to discuss behaviorist theories of survival, combat, rewards and punishment, and anxiety. René is a technical manager at a textile factory and must face the anxiety caused by corporate downsizing. Janine is a self-educated actress/stylist who learns that the wife of her lover is dying and must decide to let them reunite. Jean is a controversial career-climbing writer/politician at a crossroads in life. Written by Dragomir R. Radev <radev@cs.columbia.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list. See more »

Quotes

Jean Le Gall: I was sure a treasure chest was buried here. I got a shovel, and I dug and I searched for days on end. I kept hearing about an uncle who'd gone off to America. I was sure he'd come back to tell me where it was. For me, he was the Gold King, my uncle in America. I'm still searching.
See more »

Connections

Edited from They Were Five (1936) See more »

User Reviews

 
Outstanding masterpiece - there's no other film like it!
23 December 2001 | by karlericssonSee all my reviews

Henri Laborit finishes with these words (if I remember correctly) - no spoiler really - :As long as we do not understand, that (today) we use our cortex predominantly in order to dominate other people, then nothing can change (for the better).

I myself coined the phrase: If I had power like Hitler, then I would be Hitler.

The point made here is not that I'm Hitler or want to be as little as it is Henri Laborit's point that it is allright for us to continue to use our brain as dominator over others. The point is, that if we get accustomed to power, then all we do turns out bad, in spite of 'good' intentions.

There is no 'good' power. That's the simple truth. To claim so is as ridiculous as to say that there is 'good' evil or totally erase the borders between good and evil and wind up in total confusion like Bob Dylan sings about in his songs 'Ring Them Bells' (They're breaking down the distance between right and wrong) and 'The Disease of Conceit'.

In attempts to dominate his surroundings, man is driven to madness and suicide. The film demonstrate this and Laborit compares rat behavior with human behavior when human lives are ridiculed by this animal quest for power instead of being allowed a quest that would be truly human (in the good sence of the word): the quest of the total destruction of all power and dominance in order to create a truly human society of decency and brotherhood.

We possess a refined and beautiful cortex - why not use it for its proper purpose?, is the conclusion we find ourselves in after having seen the movie (well, not all of us).


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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

17 December 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mi tío de América See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$38,465
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Black and White (archive footage)| Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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