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Mon Oncle Antoine (The Criterion Collection)

4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

An orphan learns from his aunt and uncle one Christmas Eve in 1940s Quebec. Directed by Claude Jutra.

Special Features

  • SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DISC SET FEATURES: New restored high-definition digital transfer supervised and approved by director of photography Michel BraultOn-Screen: Mon oncle Antoine a 2007 documentary tracing the making and history of the filmClaude Jutra an Unfinished Story a 2002 documentary that attempts to unravel "the Jutra mystery" featuring interviews with Brault Bernardo Bertolucci actors Genevieve Bujold and Saul Rubinek. and actor-director Paule BaillargeonA Chairy Tale a 1957 experimental short codirected by Jutra and Norman McLarenTheatrical trailerOptional English-dubbed soundtrackNew and improved English subtitle translationPLUS: A new essay by film scholar Andre Loiselle

Product Details

  • Actors: Jacques Gagnon, Lyne Champagne, Jean Duceppe, Olivette Thibault, Claude Jutra
  • Directors: Claude Jutra
  • Writers: Claude Jutra, Clément Perron
  • Producers: Marc Beaudet
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Subtitled, Special Edition, Anamorphic, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: July 8, 2008
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00180R04K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,995 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Mon Oncle Antoine (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
MON ONCLE ANTOINE is about rural life and the coming of age of a teenage boy whose uncle is an embalmer.Slow moving but immensely rewarding;one can feel the director's tenderness for his characters.The film can be hard to appreciate if you don't speak FRENCH or don't know much about the aspects of rural life in QUEBEC and it's mentality..JUTRA the director, plays a little part in the general store.JEAN DUCEPPE who plays ANTOINE was a very well known actor in QUEBEC;he formed his own theater company in 1973 ... Along the way,the teenage boy also makes his sexual awakening in a funny voyeurism scene in which some women comes to the general store to renew their wardrobes.The film remains the director's most acclaim work.JUTRA sadly died of the ALZHEIMER disease in 1986.
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Format: DVD
I can't say this film makes the same stunning impression on me that it did the first time I saw it in a theatre (in 1971) but it's still an absolute gem! I looked for it on VHS for years in America to no avail, couldn't even find it on a couple of trips to Canada although I know it was released on VHS at one time there. When Image released it on DVD several years ago I of course immediately purchased it. That release wasn't bad but the Criterion version is far better. It's from a new high definition transfer in the proper widescreen aspect ratio (the Image version was full screen 4:3) and looks better than I remember it ever looking in theaters. The second disc contains a 2007 one hour documentary on the film itself as well as a 2002 feature length (82 minutes) documentary on director Claude Jutra, both made for Canadian television I believe. An early short by Jutra and the theatrical trailer are also included. Despite the usual Criterion premium price this edition is highly recommended if you love this film as much as I do...or even if you've never seen it and want to have a great movie experience. It's in French with or without English subtitles. A dubbed English track is also on the disc if you prefer that (I don't!).
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Format: DVD
This film has consistently been voted as the greatest Canadian film ever made in various critics polls over the years. Revered New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael hailed it as a small masterpiece upon original release but it is the sort of slow, intimate, character-based drama that has never achieved the sort of wide appeal (outside of Canada) that more plot focused films have. Watching some of the supplementary material on the Criterion Collection disc, it is also clear that there are many cultural references in the film that will mean more to a Canadian (particularly a French Canadian) than to other viewers.

The film meanders amiably along, capturing in unhurried pace the life of rural 1940's Quebec, in this case an abestos mining town. The main characters are Benoit, an orphaned boy, the local undertaker Antoine and his assistant Fernand played by the director himself Claude Jutra.
Eventually the film reaches its big set-piece, a long, extended night sequence where Benoit and Antoine (covered in furs) must traverse the icy, snow covered landscape via sled to retrieve the body of a boy who has died at a farmhouse.

The director was hailed as the new savior of Canadian cinema at the time of release, but unfortunately never achieved the level of success later on that he did with this film. He mysteriously disappeared one winter and his body was discovered the following spring after the ice had thawed...a simple note attached, "My name is Claude Jutra".
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Format: DVD
I am not going to recapitulate the plot or attempt to compete with other reviews; Ebert's is excellent, and another, at dvdtalk, gives an excellent discussion of political and other details that make the film more understandable.

What I find surprising is that no one seems to have realized that the director, Claude Jutra, seems to have made this film into what would turn out to be a play-within-a-play, the larger play being his own life, since, as in this movie, Jutra's own body disappeared in the winter, to be recovered later (in 1986). Jutra's death was presumably a suicide. The disappearance of the body was foreshadowed in this film, and the exact mode of death was described in one of his other films. In other words, I believe that he choreographed his own death.

The film has some fascinating touches, such as Benoit's irreverent boyishness being characterized by his jumping across the tops of church pews. The irony of the Lord's name being taken in vain while putting up Christmas decorations is outstanding. There they are in what amounts to a Godless company town, handling the decorations: "Careful with the Virgin Mary. She's touchy." The question about the figurine Jesus, "Where is Jesus?" is obviously being asked in reference to their family, or their entire community or perhaps mankind as a whole. The answer, "Ask the Holy Ghost, he knows everything," is appropriately irreverent: even the priest was drinking on the job there, so no human could answer the question.

What I did when watching this for the first time was to play it with the dubbed English at the same time as displaying the subtitles. The difference in the translations is interesting. One can get a better understanding of what was intended by comparing the two translations.
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