My American Uncle

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My American Uncle
Mon oncle d'Amérique movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster (artwork: Enki Bilal)
Directed byAlain Resnais
Produced byPhilippe Dussart
Written byHenri Laborit
Jean Gruault
StarringGérard Depardieu
Nicole Garcia
Roger Pierre
Music byArié Dzierlatka
CinematographySacha Vierny
Edited byAlbert Jurgenson
Distributed byGaumont
Release date
  • 21 May 1980 (1980-05-21)
Running time
126 minutes

My American Uncle (French: Mon oncle d'Amérique) is a 1980 French film directed by Alain Resnais. The film stars Gérard Depardieu, Nicole Garcia, and Roger Pierre.


The didactic film is built around the ideas of French physician, writer and philosopher Henri Laborit, who plays himself in the film. It uses the stories of three people to illustrate Laborit's theories on evolutionary psychology regarding the relationship of self and society.

René leaves the family farm to become an executive at a French textile firm. Janine leaves her proletarian family behind to become an actress who becomes involved with Jean, a well-educated bourgeois writer/politician. All three characters face difficult choices in life-changing situations that are designed to illuminate Laborit's ideas.

Henri Laborit illustrates our 3 reactions to stressful environments (fight, flight, and inhibition), using lab rats, which illustrate the story line of the film. Simple animals have a reptilian brain, concerned with sleep, appetite, and sex. More sophisticated animals also have an associative brain which remembers behaviors that lead to outcomes. All creatures strive for equilibrium, or homeostasis, in their environments, which manifest as controlling behaviors in the characters of the film.


Awards and honors[edit]

The film won the Grand Prix and the FIPRESCI prizes at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival,[1] and Henri Laborit and Jean Gruault's screenplay was nominated at the 53rd Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay.

The film features in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.


  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Mon oncle d'Amérique". Retrieved 28 May 2009.

External links[edit]