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Denys Arcand's Le Declin de l'empire americain and Les Invasions barbares

Denys Arcand's Le Declin de l'empire americain and Les Invasions barbares

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  • Book Info
    Denys Arcand's Le Declin de l'empire americain and Les Invasions barbares
    Book Description:

    André Loiselle presents the first in-depth analysis of both Arcand films within the context of Quebec culture.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8785-1
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-2)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    The release of Denys Arcand’sLe Déclin de l’empire américainin 1986 marked a turning point in Quebec cinema. It was the first French-language film made in Canada to enjoy huge critical and commercial success at homeandto become a genuine hit abroad. There had been critically acclaimed films from Quebec, such asMon oncle Antoine(1971, Claude Jutra) andLes Ordres(1974, Michel Brault), and some movies such asDeux femmes en or(1970, Claude Fournier) andLes Plouffe(1981, Gilles Carle) had been quite lucrative at the box office. But none beforeLe Déclinhad managed to...


    • 1 The Production and Reception of Scabrous Conversations
      (pp. 19-30)

      Based on Arcand’s own experiences, as well as scraps of information taken from anyone willing to discuss their sex life with him, the first draft of ‘Conversations scabreuses’ revolves around a convivial supper at a country house among eight friends: four women and four men. The conversations are an affable compendium of sexual anecdotes and lies; underneath lascivious pleasantries lurk contempt and hatred.¹ While the script had none of the physical violence found inLa maudite galette,Réjeanne Padovani, and – even more so –Gina, ‘Conversations scabreuses’ still displayed the biting cynicism present in the earlier features, albeit only in verbal...

    • 2 The Decline of Patriarchy and the Death of the Feminine
      (pp. 31-58)

      ‘One of the fundamental notions of the film’smise en scène,’ says Arcand, ‘is that it’s the men who are in the kitchen cooking while the women are out bodybuilding.’¹ The juxtaposition of the men in the domestic space, preparing a meal for their female friends, who are at the gym, seems to represent a progressive role reversal. Furthermore, the topic of conversation in both spaces also appears to foster equality among the genders, since the women are as open and outspoken about their sexual adventures as the men. Whether it is Dominique’s amusing encounter with a muscular Sicilian cop...

    • 3 The Death of Quebec History
      (pp. 59-72)

      Arcand has claimed that there is ‘no reference to the fact that these are French Canadian or Québécois’ characters.’¹ This is not, of course, the case, since there are explicit references to Quebec in the film. Brossard, a suburb of Montreal, and Université Laval, the oldest French-language university in the province, are mentioned in the dialogue. The cineaste sees those allusions as somewhat immaterial; what matters is not that Brossard is specifically named, but rather that Brossard is asuburb, away from the omnipresent, prying eyes of the big city. A French or American filmmaker would have come up with...

    • 4 Friends in the Landscape, or Was Louise Right All Along?
      (pp. 73-84)

      When I asked Arcand about the seeming hopelessness expressed inLe Déclinhe responded:

      The most insightful analysis ofThe DeclineI have ever read is a comment published inSaturday Night. The reviewer argues that critiques have focused too much on the spoken discourse of the film, at the expense of the visual and musical discourses. In his view, and I agree with him, these non-verbal enunciations convey that, while Canada might not have a very exciting history, there is a sense of peacefulness and serenity here; an immanent happiness that no one ‘talks’ about, but that is communicated...

    (pp. 87-90)

    The opening credits ofLes Invasions barbaresrespond toLe Déclinin a suggestive way. As inLe Déclin, the credits of Les Invasions begin after a prologue. In the later film, the prologue introduces Rémy; his son Sébastien, now a futures trader living in England, talking with his mother Louise over the phone; as well as one of Rémy’s many mistresses (Sophie Lorain) ferociously arguing with the now bedridden, hospitalized womanizer. Before we continue, it is worth noting that there are two versions ofLes Invasions barbares. A 112-minute version, which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival and...

  6. Conclusion: Sex, Death and Boredom
    (pp. 155-160)

    FromLe DéclintoLes Invasions,Arcand traces the decline of Quebec’s national dream and the Québécois’s last attempts to cling to a sense of self in resistance to the centrifugal forces of barbaric globalization. While the French-Canadian bon vivant has passed away and the more talented and ambitious members of the younger generation have left the fatherland for greener pastures, what of those who are left behind in Quebec? If Rémy is dead and Sébastien has moved on, who remains? Jean-Marc Leblanc (Marc Labrèche), the central character of Arcand’s 2007 filmL’Âge des ténèbres. A bored civil servant who...

  7. Filmography
    (pp. 161-172)
  8. Notes
    (pp. 173-186)
  9. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 187-190)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 191-191)