Mon oncle Antoine

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Mon oncle Antoine
Mon oncle Antoine poster.jpg
Directed by Claude Jutra
Produced by Marc Beaudet (fr)
Written by Claude Jutra
Clément Perron
Starring Jacques Gagnon
Jean Duceppe
Olivette Thibault
Lionel Villeneuve
Claude Jutra
Music by Jean Cousineau
Cinematography Michel Brault
Edited by Claire Boyer
Claude Jutra
Distributed by National Film Board of Canada
Janus Films
Release date
  • November 12, 1971 (1971-11-12)
Running time
104 minutes
Country Canada
Language French
Budget CDN$750,000

Mon oncle Antoine (French pronunciation: ​[mɔ̃ nɔ̃kl ɑ̃twan]) is a 1971 National Film Board of Canada (Office national du film du Canada) French language drama film. Québécois director Claude Jutra co-wrote the screenplay with Clément Perron and directed what is one of the most acclaimed works in Canadian film history.

The film examines life in the Maurice Duplessis-era Asbestos Region of rural Québec prior to the Asbestos Strike of 1949. Set at Christmas time, the story is told from the point of view of a 15-year-old boy (Benoît, played by Jacques Gagnon) coming of age in a mining town. The Asbestos Strike is regarded by Québec historians as a seminal event in the years prior to the Quiet Revolution.

Jutra's film is an examination of the social conditions in Québec's old, agrarian, conservative and cleric-dominated society on the eve of the social and political changes that transformed the province a decade later.[1]


Benoît is a young teenage boy living in rural Quebec. He works at the town general store belonging to his aunt Cécile and his uncle, Antoine, who is also the town undertaker. On December 24 he begins work, setting up the store display much to the delight of the town and flirting with Carmen, the young girl whom his uncle and aunt employ, and treat as an adopted child.

Madame Jos Poulin's eldest son, Marcel, dies that day and she places a call to the store asking if Antoine can come to take care of the body. For the first time Benoît is allowed to go with him. After they load the body into a coffin they prepare to take it home. However, on the way home Benoît encourages the horse to run as quickly as possible causing the coffin to fall off the sleigh. He tries to get Antoine to help put the coffin back on the sleigh; however, Antoine who has been steadily drinking throughout the day is unable to lift the coffin. He confesses to Benoît that he hates dealing with the dead bodies and that he is miserable in his life, wishing that he had achieved his dream of owning a hotel in the U.S. as he had wanted to. He further confesses that though he treats Benoît and Carmen like his own, he regrets that his wife was unable to give him children.

Angry with Antoine, Benoît manages to get him back in the sleigh and returns home. He runs up the stairs to get help from his aunt and discovers her embracing Fernand, the help, in her nightgown. Realizing what has happened Fernand takes Benoît out in the sleigh to look for the body. Traumatized by seeing his aunt and Fernand together, Benoît is no help in remembering where the coffin fell off the sleigh. Eventually they make it back to the Poulin household where they find the entire Poulin family, including Jos, the father, who had been away working, around the coffin mourning the loss of Marcel.


  • Jacques Gagnon as Benoit
  • Lyne Champagne as Carmen
  • Jean Duceppe as Uncle Antoine
  • Olivette Thibault as Aunt Cécile
  • Claude Jutra as Fernand, Clerk
  • Lionel Villeneuve as Jos Poulin
  • Hélène Loiselle as Madame Poulin
  • Mario Dubuc as Poulin's son
  • Lise Brunelle as Poulin's daughter
  • Alain Legendre as Poulin's son
  • Robin Marcoux as Poulin's son
  • Serge Evers as Poulin's son
  • Monique Mercure as Alexandrine
  • Georges Alexander as The Big Boss
  • Rene Salvatore Catta as The Vicar

Critical acclaim[edit]

The film was selected as the Canadian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 44th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[2] It was also entered into the 7th Moscow International Film Festival.[3]

The film has twice been voted the greatest Canadian film ever in the Sight & Sound poll, which is conducted once each decade. The Toronto International Film Festival placed it first in the Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time three times.[1]

This film has been designated and preserved as a 'masterwork' by the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada, a charitable non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting the preservation of Canada’s audio-visual heritage.[4]

It was featured in the Canadian Cinema television series which aired on CBC Television in 1974.[5]

On 8 July 2008, The Criterion Collection released a special 2-disc collector's edition of the film.[citation needed]

On 23 December 2008, Roger Ebert put Mon Oncle Antoine on his Great Movies list.[citation needed]


Canadian Film Awards – Feature Film, Director, Screenplay, Cinematography, Actor (Jean Duceppe), Supporting Actress (Olivette Thibault), Musical Score, Overall Sound

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ellerman, Evelyn. "Mon Oncle Antoine Commentary". Canadian Film Online. Athabasca University. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  2. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  3. ^ "7th Moscow International Film Festival (1971)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 2014-04-03. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  4. ^ Archived 2011-09-30 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Corcelli, John (August 2005). "Canadian Cinema". Canadian Communications Foundation. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2010.

External links[edit]