IMDb > The Decline of the American Empire (1986)
Le déclin de l'empire américain
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The Decline of the American Empire (1986) More at IMDbPro »Le déclin de l'empire américain (original title)

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Overview

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7.3/10   5,392 votes »
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Down 35% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Denys Arcand
Gabriel Arcand (collaborating writer)
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Contact:
View company contact information for The Decline of the American Empire on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
November 1986 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
Sexual revelations emerge when a group of academics and their partners spend a weekend at a country retreat. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 13 wins & 6 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
A serious comedy See more (32 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)
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Directed by
Denys Arcand 
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Denys Arcand 
Gabriel Arcand  collaborating writer
Mark Blandford  collaborating writer
Jean-Claude Lauzon  collaborating writer
Monique Proulx  collaborating writer
Yvon Rivard  collaborating writer
Catherine Ruelle  collaborating writer
Louise Vandelac  collaborating writer

Produced by
Roger Frappier .... producer
Pierre Gendron .... line producer
René Malo .... producer
 
Original Music by
François Dompierre 
 
Cinematography by
Guy Dufaux 
 
Film Editing by
Monique Fortier 
 
Production Design by
Gaudeline Sauriol 
 
Art Direction by
Gaudeline Sauriol 
 
Costume Design by
Denis Sperdouklis 
 
Makeup Department
Gaétan Noiseux .... hair stylist
Cécile Rigault .... assistant makeup artist
Micheline Trépanier .... makeup artist
 
Production Management
Suzanne Dussault .... post-production manager
Lyse Lafontaine .... production manager
Estelle Lemieux .... unit manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Jacques W. Benoit .... assistant director
Monique Maranda .... second assistant director
 
Art Department
Charles Bernier .... set props
Louis Gascon .... assistant props
Claude Lafond .... carpenter
Alain Singher .... set props
 
Sound Department
Yvon Benoît .... boom operator
Huguette Bergeron .... assistant to Denys Arcand
Richard Besse .... sound
Diane Boucher .... dialogue editor
Adrian Croll .... sound re-recording mixer
Paul Dion .... sound editor
Carole Gagnon .... assistant sound editor
Marie-Claude Gagné .... assistant sound editor
Louis Hone .... foley mixer
Jean-Pierre Joutel .... sound re-recording mixer
Andy Malcolm .... foley artist
Conrad Perrault .... lab manager (as Conrad Perreault)
Lise Wedlock .... foley assistant
 
Special Effects by
Louis Craig .... special effects supervisor
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Yvon Boudrias .... key grip
Bertrand Carrière .... still photographer
Sylvaine Dufaux .... second assistant camera
Claude Fortier .... electrician
Jean-Pierre Lamarche .... grip
Jacques Leduc .... cinematographer: nature scenes
Roger Martin .... gaffer
Nathalie Moliavko-Visotzky .... first assistant camera
Nathalie Moliavko-Visotzky .... focus puller
Normand Viau .... electrician
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Mario Davignon .... key dresser
Brunhilde Pradier .... wardrobe seamstress
 
Editorial Department
Diane Boucher .... assistant editor
Suzanne Dussault .... post-production assistant
 
Music Department
Edith Boivin Beluse .... musician: piano and electronic keyboard
Paul Pagé .... music recordist
Lorraine Prieur .... musician: piano and electronic keyboard
 
Other crew
Sylvain Arseneault .... production assistant (as Sylvain Arsenault)
Bruno Bazin .... production assistant
Micheline Bonin .... production accountant
Serge Bouthillier .... title designer
Louise Cousineau .... assistant production administrator
Edouard Davidovici .... technical co-ordinator
François Fauteux .... production assistant
Jean-Pierre Fauteux .... production assistant
Serge Gaudreau .... assistant title designer
Jean Guérin .... production coordinator
Jean-Pierre Joly .... assistant title designer
Ken Korrall .... location manager
Frédéric Lefebvre .... production assistant
Monique Létourneau .... production administrator
Louise Overy .... assistant title designer
Johanne Pelletier .... production secretary
Johanne Prégent .... script supervisor
Val Teodori .... assistant title designer
 
Thanks
René Lamarche .... thanks
 

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Le déclin de l'empire américain" - Canada (original title)
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Runtime:
101 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Aspect Ratio:
1.78 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
The house in which the majority of the events take place, in Magog, burned down in 1989, was later rebuilt. The scene in which one of the women characters is having sex, seen through a window from outside, was actually shot through a garage window. The actress was sitting on the snow tires which the owner of the house stored in the garage. She told him that, thanks to the tires, it was one of the most comfortable scenes she had ever done.See more »
Soundtrack:
Music themesSee more »

FAQ

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful.
A serious comedy, 24 July 2006
Author: bandw from Boulder, CO

If you do not like dialog driven movies, then you will not like this, since it consists primarily of talk about sex with some general philosophizing added. With "The Decline of the American Empire" I don't know if director Arcand has served up a sweet dessert with a core of bitter almonds or a drink of Angostura bitters sweetened with a sugar cube. I lean toward the latter.

I liked the leisurely pace of the opening credits which play over a long tracking shot moving down a long concourse terminating in our meeting two of the main characters - Dominique and Diane. Diane, a journalist for "Writers Today," is interviewing Dominique about her new book, "Changing Concepts of Happiness." Right up front we are introduced to the main thesis which is that a society is in decline when it becomes more concerned with individual happiness and instant gratification rather than with the general good. In such a society people resist sacrifice and marriages break down as people pursue personal happiness. What happens in the rest of the movie illustrates the point.

In short order we are introduced to two more women, Louise and Danielle, who are working out in a gym. They are joined by Diane and Dominique and, during their workouts, the women discuss in intimate detail some of their past sexual exploits.

Then we are introduced to four men (Remy, Pierre, Alain, Claude) who are preparing an elegant dinner for the four women we have already met. Remy, Pierre, Claude are faculty in the history department of a Quebec university and Alain is a student. Dominique is the chairman of the department, Diane is a teaching assistant there, Louise is the wife of Remy and Danielle is Pierre's partner and an undergraduate, so it's a pretty close-knit bunch of intellectuals. As the men prepare the meal they talk endlessly about their sexual exploits as well, but, as can be imagined, the tone of their conversation is a bit different from the women's. We are clearly well into the post sexual revolution era as much adultery is confessed and sexual fantasies revealed, and Claude's homosexuality is totally accepted. It is an ironic twist that the men are preparing dinner and the women are in the gym, *but* the women are in the gym so that they can be more sexually attractive to men.

I asked myself why I found the men's banter more entertaining than what I have overheard many times in men's locker rooms, and the answer is that it is witty and literate rather than crude and unimaginative. Perhaps more importantly all the actors seem to be having such fun and deliver their lines with such enthusiasm that it rubs off. Also, while "The Decline of the American Empire" is no "Big Night," the dinner preparations and ultimate product are not without interest. Unless you are a gourmet cook, you will learn, as I did, about "vesiga," "velouté," "coulibiac," and "mousseline."

And there are some special treats like when the four men act out a little dance about how they have to engage in that activity to please their women. While dancing they give voice to topics that they pretend interest in, for the same purpose. Their dance is clever, tightly choreographed, and hilarious.

The musical score is suitably highbrow, with a little help from Handel and Francois Dompierre.

So, why do I think that "The Decline of the American Empire" is ultimately depressing? Because it illustrates too well the destructive effects of the selfish pursuit of personal happiness, particularly with regard to sexual gratification. None of the relationships here is stable. And the philosophizing at the end espouses a cynical pessimism that intellectuals seem particularly good at. There is discussion to the effect that people should speak about what they know, and that's it. For example, "the Pope knows all about masturbation and prostate ailments. He can talk about that - and the CIA. Don't underestimate the Pope." The group goes on to skewer Marx, Freud, Jung, sociologists, psychologists, and even themselves. They quote Wittgenstein to justify some of their behavior: "Our only certainty is to act with our bodies." Academics, you gotta love 'em.

If you go on to see the sequel, "The Barbarian Invasions" (same actors, same characters, seventeen years later) you will see that Remy's life is a metaphor for the more general thesis expounded in "The Decline of the American Empire." Each movie stands alone, but each benefits from having seen the other.

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