The Barbarian Invasions

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This article is about the 2003 film. For the "barbarian invasions" of Europe, see Migration Period.
Les Invasions barbares
The Barbarian Invasions
The Barbarian Invasions.jpg
Original film poster
Directed by Denys Arcand
Produced by Daniel Louis
Denise Robert
Written by Denys Arcand
Starring Rémy Girard
Stéphane Rousseau
Dorothée Berryman
Louise Portal
Marie-Josée Croze
Marina Hands
Music by Pierre Aviat
Cinematography Guy Dufaux
Edited by Isabelle Dedieu
Distributed by Pyramide Distribution (France)
Alliance Atlantis (Canada)
Miramax Films (US)
Release dates
  • 21 May 2003 (2003-05-21) (Cannes)
  • 24 September 2003 (2003-09-24)
Running time
112 minutes
Country Canada
Language French
Budget US$5 million
Box office US$26,924,656

The Barbarian Invasions (French: Les Invasions barbares) is a 2003 Canadian-French comedy-drama film written and directed by Denys Arcand. It is the sequel to Arcand's earlier film The Decline of the American Empire and is followed by Days of Darkness. The film was produced by companies from both Canada and France, including Telefilm Canada, Société Radio-Canada and Canal+. It was released in 2003 and won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 76th Academy Awards in 2004. It was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay but lost to Lost in Translation.


Continuing seventeen years after Arcand's The Decline of the American Empire, the film centres on an exploration of the characters first met in the original film and their children, newly introduced. The older generation are still largely social-democrats and proponents of Quebec nationalism, but both political and economic developments after the “Quiet Revolution” of the 1960s, as well as their own aging, make their left-wing stance seem somewhat anachronistic.

The plot revolves around the character Rémy's battle with terminal cancer, and the efforts of Sébastien, his estranged son to make his dying father more comfortable in his last days. Finally the father and son travel to Vermont in the United States to receive medical care.

Sébastien, at the request of Rémy's ex-wife Louise, has reluctantly returned from London where he has a successful career in quantitative finance - anathema to his father's socialist persuasions. However, this background helps Sébastien to navigate and manipulate Quebec's healthcare system (portrayed as somewhat overloaded in the film) to secure better care for his father. In the process, he also gathers the various other friends and family members from Rémy's past who come to visit and comfort him. During Rémy's last days, he and his friends travel to the cottage of the first film, and discuss philosophy, politics, and past sexual and intellectual exploits.



The Barbarian Invasions has received positive reviews from numerous critics. As of January 2010, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 82% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 123 reviews.[1] Metacritic reports that the film has an average score of 71 out of 100, based on 35 reviews.[2] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the movie four stars and called it "a movie with brains, indignation, irony and idealism." [3] Conversely, Peter Bradshaw, writing for The Guardian, disdained the movie, calling it "grotesquely overpraised," "shot through with middlebrow sophistication, boorish cynicism, unfunny satire, a dash of fatuous anti-Americanism and unthinkingly reactionary sexual politics."[4] In 2004, the Toronto International Film Festival ranked the film tenth in the Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time.[5]


The film won France's 2004 César Award for Best Picture and Best Director, plus Best Original Screenplay for Denys Arcand. It also won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 76th Academy Awards, the first Canadian film to actually win the award, in 2004 (Arcand had been previously nominated for 'Invasions' predecessor The Decline of the American Empire and Jesus of Montreal) also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay but losing to Sofia Coppola from Lost in Translation.

At the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, it won two awards: Best Screenplay Award and Best Actress Award for Marie-Josée Croze.[6]

Genie Awards – Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor (Girard), Supporting Actor (Rousseau), Supporting Actress (Croze); Prix Jutra – Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actress (Croze); TIFF – Best Canadian Feature; as well as prizes at other international festivals (Bangkok International Film Festival, Cinema Brazil Grand Prize, Czech Lions).


  1. ^ "The Barbarian Invasions Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  2. ^ "The Barbarian Invasions (2003): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  3. ^ Rogert Ebert (19 December 2003). "Movie review: The Barbarian Invasions". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  4. ^ Peter Bradshaw (20 February 2004). "The Barbarian Invasions". The Guardian. 
  5. ^ "Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time," The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2012, URL accessed 28 April 2013.
  6. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Barbarian Invasions". Retrieved 7 November 2009. 

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