Mon oncle d'Amerique (1980) Script


A being's only reason for being is being.

In other words, to maintain its organic structure.

It must stay alive... otherwise, there is no being.

Plants can stay alive without moving around.

They take their nourishment directly from the soil.

And thanks to the sun's energy...

...they transform this inanimate matter...

...into their own living matter.

I was born in Torfou... I was born...

I was born...

In Paris. In Brittany.

In the Mauges.

In a hospital. On an island.

A neighbor... Avenue de la République.

Meaning... Beef country.

The Gulf of Morbihan. The 11th arrondissement.

On my parents' farm.

It was called... The Execution Wall.

...delivered me. Logoden Island.

It seems... The doctor arrived...

Mouse Island. ... So long ago.

50 years. Too late.

There... 1,000 years.

Grandfather... 37 years.

Animals, including man...

...can only stay alive by consuming...

...the solar energy previously transformed by plants.

This calls for mobility.

They are forced to move from place to place.

Jean Le Gall, born August 4, 1929 in the Morbihan.

Grandfather a doctor, father an engineer.

Graduate, Ecole Normale Supérieure.

Degree in History... Professor in Paris Lycée.

Attached to the Ministry...

...of National Education...

...then to Ministry of Information.

Appointed News Director...

...for National Radio in 1975.

Removed after 18 months on the job.

Returns to teaching.

Publishes controversial book about National Radio.

Says he has been faithful to only one woman...

Danielle Darrieux, his idol since childhood.

He has kidney stones.

Running for office, next election.

Married... Two children.

Likes old books and the theater.

Decorated by the Ministry of Education.

To move from place to place requires a nervous system.

This nervous system permits action...

...upon, and within, the environment.

And always for the same reason... survival.

If the action is effective...

...the result is a pleasurable sensation.

Janine Garnier, born in Paris, January 13, 1948... the 20th arrondissement.

Father: Renault factory worker.

Grade school.

Stenography course.

Member of Youth Center. Young Communist militant.


After seeing Jean Marais on stage, wants to be an actress...

...but runs into family opposition.

Secretary in brass fixtures company.

Amateur theater, then semi-professional.

No follow-up to one hit at small left-bank theater.

Affair with high official, National Radio.

Supporting roles on TV... Commercials.

Contacts with ad agencies...

...lead to job as stylist with textile firm.

Reads Prévert, Aragon, Alexandre Dumas and Michel Zévaco.

Never misses a cloak-and-dagger movie on TV.

Thus there is a drive that impels living organisms... preserve their biological equilibrium...

...their vital structure and stay alive.

This drive will be expressed... four basic behavior patterns.

1- Consumption behavior, the simplest.

It fulfills fundamental needs... eating, drinking, copulating.

2- Escape behavior. 3- Combat behavior.

4- Inhibition behavior.

René Ragueneau, born December 27, 1941 Torfou.

Parents: farmers.

Local school. Catholic Action group.

Grade school certificate.

After working until age 19

...on the family farm... hired by Lacombe & Sons Textile Co.

Professional training through correspondence school.

Rapid promotion.

At 35, technical director in a suburb of Lille.

Devout Catholic.

Wife a teacher... expecting third child.

He likes soccer, cooking, operettas...

...and all movies starring Jean Gabin...

...which he sees over and over.

Knight of Merit for commerce and Industry.

Not interested in politics... has a stomach ulcer.

A brain's function is not thought, but action.

Professor Henri Laborit...

...born November 21, 1914 in Hanoi, Indochina.

Father: M.D. in Colonial Service.

Lycée Carnot in Paris. Naval Medical School in Bordeaux.

M. D... Residency... Surgeon...

Research work, Army Health Service.

Pioneers therapeutic use of artificial hibernation...

...of chlorpromazine, the first tranquilizer...

...and of other psychotropic drugs.

Work on reactions of organisms to aggression...

...brought new solutions to anesthesia and resuscitation.

Directs Laboratoire d'Eutonologie in Paris.

Author of works on biology of behavior.

Married... Five children.

Albert Lasker Award, American Health Association.

Sports: horseback riding and sailing.

Legion of Honor... Croix de Guerre 1939-45.

Decorated by Ministry of Education.

It should be added that he's from the Vendée...

...where they imposed liberty, equality, fraternity...

...especially fraternity...

...leaving 500,000 dead.

Still, he uses the gas and electricity of France...

...which shows his patriotism.

And he has adapted to a culture...

...from which he has greatly benefited.

My grandfather, an eccentric, lived on an island.

He insisted I be born there.

He'd been a doctor in World War I.

So he was disgusted with mankind... especially doctors.

His colleagues weren't fit to deliver me.

My father insisted on natural childbirth, "like in Russia".

I was weak at birth, so I had to be baptized in a hurry.

Our parish priest had to come 12 kilometers to the farm.

My parents lived in town, but my childhood...

...was mostly spent on Grandfather's island.

Evolution... a conservationist.

So, in the animal brain...

...we find very primitive forms.

There is a "first brain".

Paul MacLean calls it the reptilian brain... And so it is.

It triggers immediate survival responses...

...without which no animal could survive.

Drinking and eating, by which it preserves its structure...

...and copulation, by which it reproduces.

Then, when we get to mammals...

...a "second brain" is added to the first.

MacLean and others call this...

...the affective brain.

I prefer to call it...

...the memory brain.

With no memory of what is pleasant or unpleasant...

...there's no question of being happy, sad, anguished...

...nor of being angry, or in love.

We could almost say...

...that a living creature is a memory which acts.

Then a "third brain" is added to the two others.

It's called the cerebral cortex.

In humans, it has become highly developed.

We call it an associative cortex, meaning that it "connects".

It connects...

...the various nerve paths...

...which have retained traces of past experiences.

It connects them in a way that is different...

...from the way they were imprinted by the environment... the moment of the experience.

In other words... enables us... create, to be imaginative.

In humans, these 3 brains still exist, superimposed.

Our drives are still primitive, coming from the reptilian brain.

We lived in 2 rooms on Rue de Bagnolet.

My parents had paid 3,000 francs key money to get it.

My mother worked part-time, so I was alone every afternoon.

We had a 60-acre farm which my father worked himself...

...helped by my mother.

My father said I was good for nothing, except to be a priest.

Wait till I catch you!

We had a big house with a garden... the Villa Beauséjour.

It's still there.

I inherited it from my parents.

Jean! Shame on you...

...a big boy like you!

Every September we went to the big Communist festival.

As a child, I began taking Communion once a month.

Father wanted me to be a Navy officer.

He decided the day I was born, so that in the next war...

I could avoid the infantry. It's cleaner to die in water than in mud.

At school I loved to clown around... I nearly got expelled.

I heard Sacha Guitry was expelled 6 times, so I was proud.

But Papa said he was a reactionary.

So I started studying seriously.

Silence, girls!

My grandfather had a reward system...

15 francs for a first place...

10 francs for a second...

5 francs for a third...

Fourth or lower... a kick in the rear.

My uncle, a cattle merchant, called me "the intellectual".

He liked to quiz me, as sort of a joke.

What color was Henri IV's white horse? Say the 10 Commandments...

Thou shalt not steal.

Thou shalt not bear false witness.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.

When we had guests, I had to climb on a chair and recite a poem.

They didn't have to coax me.

"In notebooks, on schooldesks and treetrunks...

"On sand and snow, I write your name."

These three layers of the brain must function together.

Therefore, they are linked... nerve bundles.

One nerve bundle we might call the reward nexus.

Another, the punishment nexus.

This one will lead to escape, or to combat.

A third one will cause the inhibition of action.

For example, a mother's caress for her child...

...the medal that flatters a soldier's self-esteem...

...applause for an actor...

...all these release chemical substances in the reward nexus...

...and result in pleasure for the object of the attention.

"I was born to know you, to name you: Liberty!"

Everyone in my family had ideas about what I should read...

Grandfather favored Jules Verne.

Father, the lives of French heroes: Lyautey, Père de Foucauld...

Mother's choice was Racine's tragedies, which she adored.

Instead of these masterpieces...

I read adventure stories, perched in a tree.

"The lad left the car and entered with confident step.

"Tall, strong, honest and bold...

"he was none other than the Gold King, Samuel Knight...

"orphan and millionaire who, in the true American way...

"on this August 1, 1914, was giving a party at a restaurant... celebrate his 18th birthday."

Our farm, like many at the time...

...was badly run: my father stuck to the old ways.

We raised a bit of everything and did it badly.

Grain, market produce, a few cows, chickens, ducks...

...half-a-dozen goats, a small vineyard.

My brother Maurice wanted Father to specialize.

He was sure he could convince him.

We were secretly taking correspondence courses.

My uncle was deported and died.

My father was tortured by the Gestapo.

Then there was Indochina, Algeria...

I turned militant very young. I was sure we'd change the world.

The cops!

But I wanted it to happen faster! Tomorrow... Today...

My family was proud of my scholastic success.

But I knew they'd be upset when I told them my plans.

My province seemed more and more like a prison... I had to escape.

I dreamed of movies and plays I could see only in Paris.

My family had never heard of the painters and writers I liked.

Only in Paris could I meet them.

We had hiding-places for our books... our beds, in the attic, in the stable.

After Grandfather died, I still went... his island, now abandoned.

It added to my prestige with the girls...

...when I took them there unchaperoned.

I spoke about memory...

But we must understand that at birth...

...the brain is still...


Therefore, during the first 2 or 3 years of existence...

...a human being's experience of his surroundings...

...will be indelible.

It will play a very important role... the evolution of all his future behavior.

Above all, we must come to recognize...

...that what affects our nervous system, starting at birth...

...perhaps even in the womb...

...the stimuli acting upon our nervous system...

...come essentially from others.

We are others.

When we die, these others, interiorized by our nervous system...

...these others who have formed us, formed our brain...

...and filled it... Are going to die.

I had been in an "agit-prop" show...

...staged by some of my comrades.

I wanted to be an actress.

Unfortunately, I told my parents.

They told me to get a real job.

I had to start earning my keep.

Calm down! She needs to have some fun!

It's not a crime!

"Analysis of the tables on page 50 reveals that in March..."

My brother was studying agronomy. My field was accounting.

"Analysis of the tables...

...on page 50 reveals that in March..."

Of all my girlfriends, the most determined was Arlette.

For a month, we'd been quarreling with my father.

Fertilizers, tractors... anything would start an argument.

Don't like my stew?

The blow-up came the Sunday my parents invited Thérèse...

...a girl I'd met at a Catholic Farm Youth seminar.

They didn't like her... she wasn't a local girl.

I told Arlette my plans to go to Paris...

...and discussed how to break it to my family.

I thought I'd say: for the best education.

She took it badly... it meant we'd be separated.

She said she loved me and wanted to marry me.

Why did I say that I loved her, too?

To make peace... to stop her crying?

No, Jean!

My love...

I was telling your fiancée that when she's living with us...

My father talked about our future on the farm.

That did it. I finally let it all come out.

That I was sick of the farm... no way would we stay!

Nor would we work in a factory to finance it.

A "family farm" doesn't mean "farming out the family".

My cattle merchant uncle mixed in, so I let him have it, too.

It was exploiters like him who were screwing the farmers.

Little moron!

How often have you bought a sick cow dirt-cheap?

And then re-sold it as a healthy cow?

That night we left for Cholet...

...where I got an accounting job in a textile firm.

I had broken with my family.

Come on, Thérèse.

Arlette wanted a quick wedding. It meant abandoning my plans.

So I broke with her and went to study in Paris.

Thus our three brains are there.

The first 2 functions unconsciously beneath our level of awareness...

Drives... socially-conditioned reactions.

The third furnishes an explanatory language...

...which provides reasons, excuses, alibis...

...for the unconscious workings of the first two.

We can compare the unconscious to a deep sea.

And what we call consciousness is the foam that appears...

...sporadically on the crest of the waves.

It is the most superficial part of that sea, buffeted by the wind.

It wasn't just society I wanted to change...

...but also a way of life that was dull, gray, boring.

My parent's way of life... And mine.

I got a small part In "A Midsummer Night's Dream"...

...touring the provinces.

I immediately quit my secretarial job.

I had wings, I had never felt so free... happy.

My mother!

I had let my mother know... she came to make a scene.

To stop me.

We're going home!

I'm not doing anything wrong.

Tell your father that!

No, I won't budge.

I have a right to slap my own daughter!

I went home with her.

That night I skipped out with all the money in the house...

...this time for good.

After wandering around for an hour...

I went to see a girlfriend, who took me in.

Seen Ducorgé lately?

Three years later, Arlette joined me and we got married.

I was a teacher... I had given up my ambitions.

Then I ran into a classmate I'd lost sight of.

He was on the staff of the Minister of Education.

My wife, Arlette... and the hors-d'oeuvres.

He got me free-lance work to do for the Ministry.

Reports, surveys, statistics, etc.

Soon, I was writing all the Minister's speeches.

"My very soul felt the pain of those cruel words."

"We cannot love each other." I replied, "I cannot live".

Don't look at him, face the audience, I said!

You aren't talking to him... it's a letter!

Pick it up from there.

"My friend...

If I must tell you what I believe, what is true... is that when I see you..."

My friend had...

...the lead role in a play based on 18th-century love letters by...

Julie de Lespinasse.

I found the rehearsals fascinating.

I had cued my friend so often, I knew her lines by heart.

"Yes, go! Tell me you love another.

That is my desire, that is my wish.

I am too weak and too sensitive, you are right."

She is not a vamp and you are not Gaby Morlay!

I told you to face the audience!

You should be gazing into the distance... Got it?

I'm an actress, not a puppet!

Save the platitudes! Start again.

I can't work like this. Find someone else!

The blow-up I hadn't dared hope for had happened.

Pretending it was to save time, I suggested to the director...

...that he try me in the role.

Thus we can distinguish four main kinds of behavior...

1 - Consumption behavior, which fulfills basic needs.

2 - Gratification behavior...

When an action results in pleasure, we try to renew it.

3 - Behavior in response to punishment...

...either by escape, to avoid it...

...or by combat, to destroy the aggressor.

4 - Inhibition behavior... all action ceases.

We wait tensely... which leads to anguish.

Anguish is the impossibility of dominating a situation.

"My friend, if you knew what my days are like...

...dull and dreary with no hope of seeing you...

Amusement, distraction, movement suffice for you.

But my happiness is you...

...and only you."

You can go on the night shift, but take my advice...

No moonlighting by day.

At your age... Sleep! Or study, if you're ambitious.

Look at me, a farmer's son... grade school certificate.

When I started I knew less than you.

I took courses... Technical school... Climbed the ladder.

And here I am, responsible for 200 looms.

The man I worked for became Minister of Information...

...and I joined his staff officially.

I was appointed News Director for National Radio.

"It's you... Only you.

I wouldn't want to live...

...if I couldn't see you and love you always."

"She forbids him to enter her bedroom.

She doesn't want him to see her face ravaged by pain."

"Your day has been hideous, your night will be more so.

See a doctor.

Drink milk since you think it might soothe you."

The play was a hit... much to our own surprise.

It ran for a year.

"My friend, I love you.

This is the sedative for my pain.

Only you have the power to change it to poison.

I am so weary of life...

I am ready to beg you to grant me this release.

Oh, my friend...

...let me owe you my rest! For virtue's sake... cruel this once.

I die..."

Jean-Marie... I feel like crying!

Jean-Marie... it's criminal to close the play!

You know we have no choice.

The theater's booked!

Look, open the door!

Even a hit loses money in such a small theater.

Find another!

And publicity? I'm broke!

That's your fault.

And I bet you have another play!

We were a stepping-stone and now to hell with us!

Janine, stay! Leave me alone!

I was in the audience and I had to congratulate you.


...absolutely remarkable.

Jean Le Gall... Radio News Director.

My wife was spellbound, weren't you?

Yes, it's a very fine play.

Very moving.

I'm not the one to tell...'s the director.

The cast had organized an end-of-show party.

In the end, I agreed to stay.

I had no idea how that evening would change my life.

You're wanted.

The recipe for rabbit à la moutarde.

Thank you. It's not too complicated?

Just don't use cream for mustard, and mustard for cream.

Our company, founded nearly a century ago...

...had always been run by the same family.

Mr Louis, the present director, started 40 years ago, as a buyer...

...under his grandfather.

Under his father, he was in charge of Weaving.

15 years ago, after his father died...

...he took full charge, assisted by his younger brother, Mr Paul.

Things had changed in those 15 years.

Common Market competition... computers...

Despite our size...

...we hadn't "the means to expand," as Mr Paul said.

Well, Ragueneau... your vacation went well?

Very well, Mr Louis... Thank you.

Your wife? The children?

They're fine.

Leon Veestrate.

Mr Veestrate has the same duties at Lacaune & Co as you have here.

For a while, we'd like him to work with you... you can compare methods, exchange ideas... prepare for the day, not too far off now...

...when our merger becomes fact.

I see.

I won't keep you any longer.

If I may make a suggestion...

You might start by showing your colleague around our plant.

Yes, of course.

Come with me, Mr Veestrate.

Why stock your goods that way?

Don't you have a traveling crane?

Come see the Spooling Section.

Don't you know the fully-automated Italian system?

Of course...

...but I hear it's fragile, always breaking down.

Let's see the Finishing Section.

How frequent is production control?

Once a month.

We won't work on orders any more, but on an annual program.

That means planned production...

...and daily inspections.

Daily? Yes... At least at the start.

What'll I do?

Papa's hurting Mama.

You're horrible! Horrible!

Jean, think it over!

Do anything you like, I won't say a word... But stay!

What do I have to do... Kneel?

Grovel at your feet? Is that what you want?

No, you won't leave!

You'll have to hit me.

Go on, hit me! You know you're dying to!

Why is Papa going away?

He has to take a trip.

Say goodbye to him.

Now go back to bed.

I'll call you tomorrow morning.

It's for you.

Yes, Mr. Vaudoyen.

That's the Blondel file... I'll get it ready and bring it in.

The Finishing Section? I'll be right there.

A problem in Finishing.

If Vaudoyen calls, tell him I'll bring the file... soon as I can.


Mr Vaudoyen, my respects.

The Blondel file?

I'll bring it in.

Did you bring your whole library?

The problem of the wayward intellectual: what to take?

Balzac or Stendhal? Lenin or Trotsky?

95% just stay put, because they couldn't choose.

Or didn't want to.

What's that?

Pictures and documentation for a book I've wanted to write.

But my wife, the children...

A book?

About the sun... the history of the sun.

Men's ideas about the sun, since the dawn of time.

A universal man! You told me... wanted to be Prime Minister, now you're writing a book.

They're not incompatible... in fact they go together.

Think of Blum, Herriot, Edgar Faure and Pompidou.

And that?

An island in Brittany.

They say Druids gathered there to worship a sun-god.

I was born there.

On an island?

Take me there? Of course.

Would I love the writer more, or the politician?

Many politicians are failed writers.

Ragueneau! Not punching in?


Hello, dear... How are you?

I'm fine...

The children?

Did you call the doctor?

His fever's gone, that's what counts... And you?

Good... I'll call you tomorrow.

No, tonight I can't.

A big kiss...

Go into my office, I'll be right there.

Three copies, please, Josyane.

Anything special?

A Janine Garnier called.

I'll call her... Anything else?

Mr Bauzon-Montrieux has been waiting for an hour.

I said you had appointments, but...

Mr Le Gall, I won't stand for it.

You're going to see me immediately!

This appointment was made 2 weeks ago.

I've had one with you since you dropped my program.

I sent you a note about that.

I want you to tell me the real reason.

You know it as well as I do...

After five years, it was time for a change.

The real reason, Mr. Le Gall... political! And I'll make you admit it!

What a nasty thought...

I can prove to you that it wasn't.

It took me years to get my format accepted.

The new program, just between us, is even more subversive.

I'm sure that you have another project to submit...

Why not leave it on Mrs Arnal's desk?

I promise I'll take it home and study it tonight.

See you soon, my friend.

That ought to hold him for 3 weeks...

You were perfect!


But was it wise to drop his program?

To replace it with what?

Don't you like the new show?

What I think doesn't matter...

It's the Minister's opinion that counts.

You saw him this morning?

What did he say?

Oh, he's delighted... Delighted!


What's wrong?

It's nothing...

It's just nerves.

It's that guy, Veestrate... He's on my back all day long.

It's as if I'm taking an exam.

It won't last forever.

That's just it... they have to decide.

Who "they"?

Not Mr Louis or Mr Paul... the head office in Paris.

People I've never seen.

They're comparing my work with somebody else's.

That's never happened to me before...

The comparison may be in your favor.

One thing is sure...

I haven't kept up with modern methods.

Invite him to dinner. Who?

Your Veestrate... It might make him more human.

Me, cook for a guy who's sabotaging me?

Why not?

It smells good!

What is it?

Salmi of woodcock.

Not too much...

You had no pâté, either.

My husband can't eat game... it gives him hives.

In 3 minutes, he'd be covered with spots.

Go ahead and eat, don't worry about me.

We have ham... or we can make spaghetti.

It's wonderful! How do you make it?

It's fairly complicated...

Roast the birds till three-fourths done.

Take skin, carcass, gizzard... all the innards...

Chop finely and make...

...a sauce, using diced onions, thyme, etc...

...with hot cognac, mushrooms and croutons.

The big secret with woodcock is the intestines.

I add them at the last minute, for more flavor.

Won't you taste it?

No, no... I was thinking about the Willot brothers.

All he thinks about is work.

The Willots are game old birds... but too tough for a salmi!

Know what Antoine Willot said about French businessmen?

"Their goal is to conserve; ours is to conquer."

Well said!

Oh, sir!

We're sick about it!

Josyane's been crying all morning.

We all liked you, we were a real team...

What the hell is this?

I thought you knew.

It was like this when we got here... they must've come early!

Excuse me!

I'm not crying... But I'd like to.

They moved everything out.

Who are "they"?

What the hell is this?

Clear the table... Can't you work in your rooms?

Where's your mother?

She's not back yet.

Shit, shit, shit... Move!

Oh, it's you!

What's going on?

Why are you so late?

You're in a bad mood!

Read this.

So, the head office in Paris has sent for you...

It's not a dismissal notice.

They're being tactful.

To top it all, I saw the Minister that very day...

He was charming, as usual.

Ah, there you are!

Where were you? I went home to change.

Hello Michel. Dear Janine...

More radiant than ever.

And so, the Minister?

He knew my successor was already appointed!

He never let on...

He listened to my plans for next year!

Nothing was said about the unsinkable Bauzon-Montrieux?

Why? No...

Know who phoned today? Your "successor", as you call him.

You three were students together...

What did he want?

To apologize... It seems he was forced to accept.

That's a good one! Let's change the subject...

But that's not all.

He says you got him appointed, Michel.

Is that true?

Drop it.

I helped him, as I've helped Jean, and as Jean will help me...

What's the problem?

Jean must capitalize on this...

He's big news.

That's not the point! Is Jean your friend or not?

That's enough, Janine.

Darling, what is it?

It's back. What's back?

Kidney attack...

My love!

Call a doctor!

Sit down... We have a lot to talk about.

No, thanks... I don't smoke.

In our work, it can be dangerous.

I called you in today to discuss your future with you.

My future?

You know our firm is undergoing many changes...

Successive mergers cause a great deal of upheaval.

You've continued to do your job well...

...though you must've had many questions.

The time has come for choices...

...and I want to make them with you.

We can't keep 2 technical directors...

...for a relatively small production unit.


There has to be a chief... We've chosen Veestrate.

Come out and say it... I'm fired.

No question of that...

On the contrary, we thought of giving you a harder job.

You know Broceliande Looms, a recent addition to our group?

It's in Cholet.

I know... I started out there.

They're converting to ready-to-wear, and we need a new director.

To live in Cholet? Of course.

600 kilometers from my home!

You'd get a substantial raise.

That's our proposition.

Think about it, talk to your wife... go there and see.

But if you refuse, it would create a problem.

I think it's starting again.

Hot compresses... Hurry!


Which side? Right!

I need to have my shot. Call the doctor.

Wait! Get me something to drink.

I've got to piss the damn stone out.

The compress! It's cold!

Damn it, come on! What in hell are you doing?

You feel better? Yes.

Thank you.

I'm sorry...

I'm an impossible patient.

You know, with my severance pay...

...and the advance on my book...

I think we can afford that honeymoon trip to Peru... the temples of the sun.

When will we go to your island?

It's home territory... Cholet.

A rundown weaving mill going into ready-to-wear.

There'll be a transition period to remove the looms...

...and convert the factory, then we go into production.

And you'd be the director?

Yes, but what if it's a trap?

It's a job I've never done... a huge job.

I'll have 200 employees under me.

I'll have to learn the job.

Unless they want me to get in deeper and then... Out!

You must be right.

I'd have to ask for a transfer.

That's not so easy for teachers.

We'd have to move.

For what?

Now wait... it's not entirely negative.

There's a hell of a difference in salary.

It's too big for you.

What do you mean by that?

What if you fail?

Who says I'm going to fail?

Let's face facts...

...for 20 years you've followed orders.

Now you'd take on all this responsibility?

Why not?

I don't want to leave, I like it here.

The house is almost paid for.

I'm used to my job, I get along with the staff.

There are good schools for the kids... A university nearby!

All down the drain to go back to that hole?

You remind me of my father!

If we talked about change, he talked about his uncle in America!

He died a bum!

My father said he died a bum... it was never proved!

So you're accepting?

Well, don't count on me!

Don't forget my prescription at the pharmacy.

Yes, yes... Try to sleep a little.

May I talk to you?

If you want Jean...

I came to see you.

I haven't much time! Jean's been ill and...

Don't worry...

I'm not going to lecture you or make a scene.

Can we go somewhere quiet?

Why not here?


This is very difficult.

You'll think I'm pressuring you, using blackmail.

You haven't said anything.

I want you to let Jean come home... to me and the children.

Not for good...

Just for a few months.

I don't understand.

You will...

But promise not to tell Jean, it's between us.

I'm ill, too...

...more seriously than Jean.

I've just learned... I know it's true...

I'm dying.

Won't you say goodbye?

You're really leaving?

Even if I wanted to, I couldn't back out now.

René... I'm pregnant.

You tell me now?

How long have you known?

Go... quickly.

"I loved you to distraction, I experienced...

I experienced every degree...

...every nuance of suffering and passion.

I wanted to die...

I thought I would die..."

Listen! I can't... I have to go.

Where to?

A rehearsal... with Laugier.

We're doing Julie again. You didn't tell me.

Why should I? You'd have said it was stupid...

Reviving a play after it's closed... That's crazy!

I wonder why you left your wife... What am I, for you?

Am I a little younger... more chic, more in style?

Yes, you found her too provincial for a Minister's wife.

Don't think you can use me to show off.

I forbid you to leave!

First, why this tirade?

First, let me leave!

Take the next logical step...

Lock me in!

I want to live alone for a while.

I'll be back after midnight.

That gives you time to pack your bags.

Leave your key in the mailbox.


A rat is put in a cage...

...that is divided in two... a partition with a door in it.

The floor is intermittently electrified.

Before the electricity passes through the grids...

...a signal warns the animal...

...that 4 seconds later the shock will come.

He doesn't know at the start...

He learns fast but at first is apprehensive.

He quickly sees the open door and goes through it.

The same thing happens a few seconds later.

Again he learns the lesson quickly.

He can avoid the punishment of the small electric shock... going back to the first compartment.

The animal is subjected to this experiment...

10 minutes a day, 7 days in a row.

After these 7 days...

...he is in perfect health. His coat is sleek...

...blood pressure normal.

He has avoided punishment by escaping.

It was a pleasurable experience.

He has maintained his biological equilibrium.

Come on, Thérèse.

What is easy for a rat in a cage... more difficult for man in society.

Certain needs have been created... this society, starting in infancy.

And it is rarely possible to satisfy those needs... resorting to combat when escape proves ineffective.

You see, I'm not dead.

You might have contacted me.

Why? Did you contact me?

You walked out on me.

You could've written or phoned.

What for?

Anyway, we're on your island... both of us.

What are you doing here?

You promised to show it to me.

Don't worry, I won't steal your memories.

When two individuals have different goals...

...or the same goal...

...and they are competing to attain it...

...there is one winner, one loser.

First, let me leave!

The result is the dominance...

...of one of the individuals over the other.

Seeking to dominate in a space we can call...

...the territory... the fundamental basis...

...of all human behavior...

...though we are not conscious of our motives.

Spend my life playing Julie... no thanks!

I wanted to start from scratch.

A publicity man offered me a job as a stylist.

We had talked... He liked my ideas.

Ready-to-wear, textiles... a whole different world.

I've always liked to try new things.

You're shocked? I know, "industry" is a dirty word... my old friends, and yours.

But I like it.

I've always liked to drive, to visit foreign countries.

Oh, I heard you won your election...

I'd see your island from the road, driving by.

It made me think of you.

I bet your grandfather cooked crabs there.

You remember that?

They come in on the rising tide, hordes of them.

Green ones and red ones...

I caught dozens of them.

We'd cook, shell and eat them... so hot they'd burn our fingers.

The green ones aren't as good.

The red ones are best, but there are mostly green ones.

There is no proprietary instinct.

Nor is there an instinct to dominate.

The individual's nervous system has learned...

...the necessity of keeping, for the individual's own use... object or person that is also desired... Coveted... someone else.

You love Mama?

And he has also learned that in the competition... keep that object...

...or that person for himself, he must dominate.

You read The Gold King there?

No! You missed.

My reading place was the top of a tree.

I'll show you.

I was forbidden to climb trees.

Since they trusted me...


They never looked for me up there.

It was great... All I could see was sky.

I was sure a treasure chest was buried here.

I got a shovel...

...and I dug and I searched for days on end.

I kept hearing about an uncle...

...who'd gone off to America.

I was sure he'd come back to tell me where it was.

For me, he was The Gold King... uncle in America.

I'm still searching.

You kid!

The treasure exists!

Probably more than one! Pirates used these islands as hide-outs.

Only you and I know these awesome secrets.

We have already said that we are others.

A boy in the wild, abandoned far from other people...

...will not grow up to be a man.

He'll never know how to walk or talk.

He'll behave like a little animal.

Through language, man has been able... pass on to succeeding generations...

...all the experience that has accumulated over millions of years.

The time is long past when a person...

...could ensure his own survival.

He needs others in other to live.

He can't know everything, or do everything.

It's a crab... It can't pinch you if you hold it like this.

You can eat it... It's really good!

I'll teach you to find them, and to cook them.

Have you done your "duty"?

Go to the bathroom. You've got time.

From infancy...

Oh, it's you? Oh, sorry. survival is linked... teaching man's young...

...what they must know to function in society.

We teach him not to soil his pants, and to pee in his potty.

Then very rapidly we teach the child how to behave... as to maintain the cohesion of the group.

We teach him what is beautiful, what is good...

...what is bad, what is ugly.

We tell him what he must do...

...and punish or reward him accordingly... matter what his own pleasure dictates.

He is punished or rewarded...

...according to whether his behavior...

...conforms to the survival need of the group.

It's hot... Watch out! It burns.

See? It spins.

Sit up straight!

Shake hands with the lady.

Repeat after me: "U.S. go home!"

One, two, second, three, four... only four fingers!

"The lad left the car and entered with confident step.

"He was the Gold King...

"Samuel Knight, orphan...

...and millionaire."

No, don't!

Is that other island yours, too?

Can we go there?

If you like.

We're just starting to understand how our nervous system works.

Only in the last 20 or 30 years...

...have we learned how the system...

...starting with chemical molecules, which are its building-blocks...

...establishes nerve paths, which will be programmed...

...impregnated by social conditioning.

And all this within an unconscious mechanism...

In other words, our drives and our cultural automatisms...

...will be masked by language, by logical discourse.

"To die for your country is such a glorious fate...

...that legions will beg to charge Death's gate."

"The white race, the most perfect of races...

...inhabits mainly Europe, West Asia...

North Africa and America."

Now then...

15 francs for a first place...

10 francs for a second...

5 francs for a third...

Fourth or lower... a kick in the rear!

Why did we break up?

How's your wife?

Thanks to you, I'm still married.

Tide's rising, we must go.

It's risen a lot already!

Thus language only serves to hide the cause of dominance... mask the mechanism that established it...

...and to convince the individual that, in working for the group...

...he is gratifying himself.

But usually all he is doing... preserving hierarchical situations...

...which hide behind linguistic alibis...

...alibis furnished by language, as an excuse.

I'm dying.

Won't we be clean!

And I have to meet my wife in an hour... At the lawyer's.

It's important... a disputed inheritance.

Some cousins want this island.

Your wife can still get around?

What are you talking about?

Her illness allows her to go out?

What illness?

She isn't ill?

It's not possible.

It's horrible.

What's the matter?

I'm an idiot!


I have to get over to the house. I came for some papers.

You're going to know everything! She came...

I'd like to get back!

Wait... I'll be back.

In this second situation...

...the door between the two compartments is closed.

The rat can't escape.

He will undergo the punishment he cannot avoid.

This punishment will provoke inhibition behavior.

He learns that all action is useless, he can't escape or fight.

He stops trying.

This inhibition, in man, is accompanied by "anguish"...

...and creates profound biological disturbances... profound that, if a microbe is present...

...whereas normally he could fight it off... he can't: he gets an infection.

A cancerous cell, which normally he would destroy... will develop into cancer.

And his biological troubles will lead to...

...all those illnesses called "civilized" or psychosomatic.

Stomach ulcers, high blood pressure...

...insomnia, fatigue...

...extreme discomfort.

In the third situation...

...the rat can't escape.

He will receive the same punishment...

...but he will be confronted by another rat...

...who will serve as adversary.

And he will fight him.

This combat is absolutely useless...

He is still punished...

...but he has taken action. A nervous system is meant to act.

This rat will have no pathological problems...

...such as those we saw in the preceding case.

He'll be in excellent condition...

...although he has received the same punishment.

But in man's case...

...the laws of society usually forbid...

...such defensive violence.

The worker who is stuck with...

...a foreman that he detests...

...can't punch him in the nose. He'd land in jail.

He can't run away; he'd be out of work.

So every day and every week...

...and every month, sometimes for years, his action is inhibited.

Man has many ways to combat...

...this inhibition of action.

Aggression, for example... It is never gratuitous.

It always results from...

...other action being inhibited.

An outburst of aggression...

...rarely pays off.

But in terms of the nervous system, it is readily explained.

That's your fault. I bet you have another play!

We were a stepping-stone. Now to hell with us!

Shit, shit, shit... Move!

No, I won't budge.

Thank you for this heroic rescue.

We'll go back to the mainland in our respective boats.

I have to go find those papers.

Want me to tell you why you left me?

I'd been fired, I was no use to you anymore.

So long!

Thus, as we have said...

...the person is in a situation where action is inhibited.

Me, punch in?

If it is prolonged, it will affect his health.

The attendant biological disturbances...

...will not only cause...

...the appearance of infectious diseases...

...but also the behavior we call "mental illness".

When a person can no longer direct his aggression against others...

...he can turn it against himself in one of two ways.

He can react somatically... physiologically...

...aggressing his stomach, causing a hole... ulcer...

Or his heart and arteries, causing high blood pressure...

...sometimes even acute lesions...

...leading to severe heart disorders...

...heart attacks, strokes.

Or he'll develop rashes or asthma.

The other way he can turn his aggression...

...against himself is even more effective.

He can commit suicide.

When we can't take out our aggression on others...

...we can still take it out on ourselves.

"I no longer dare say I love you...

I no longer know."

I'm going to die...

"Jean... I never say what I should say.

I never do what I should do.

But this morning, your attitude shut me up.

I wanted to tell you that I can't live without you.

I'm in pain, Jean... I'm suffering.

I should have told you why I left you.

But would you believe me?"

'Evening, Miss Garnier. 'Evening, Albert.

How are you? Fine.

It's late... Car trouble?

No, I just took a little detour.

Your friends are there.

I'm going to my room first. Tell them I'm coming.

The market counts, not the product.

Your line of slacks almost sank us both.

"Jean... This morning I almost told you why I left you.

But your attitude shut me up.

I left you because your wife told me she was dying.

And now I learn that it was a lie."

Got any kids? They don't want tight pants anymore.

Now, everybody's jogging.

We had a chance to beat Japan and South Korea.

We'll have to fight to be first!

We'll be the guerrillas of fashion.

Good trip? Yes... Fine.

What'll you have? A Perrier with lemon.

I'm glad you're here.

You'll see... we'll work it out.

My rayon bibs really sold. The bibs did fine.

With the same kind of ad campaign for my pants...

Bibs aren't pants! You're obstinate!

How about my zipper system?

Style, Ragueneau, style! I know Janine warned you.

A year ago, you decided to manufacture pants.

You knew it would take time to start. And styles change fast.

Result? You have 100s of them in stock.

We'll have to sell them off cheap.

Your job was to re-launch a business... Now you call for help.

But that's all past...

The group will grant you a loan. Isn't that good news?

With conditions.

I'm starving... How about you?

I hear you're a gourmet... We can talk over dinner.

Conditions? What conditions?

That you share the responsibilities.

You're really a technician.

Management will be taken over by an administrator.

You'll handle all technical problems.

Meaning I'm demoted.

You'll just have less work... for the same salary.

I'll just be a small cog!

It's a scandal!

I worked my guts out for 20 years...

Sacrificed everything... my family life...

Don't exaggerate. I'm not exaggerating!

My wife has to stay in the north to keep her job.

I never see my kids... I hardly know my youngest.

I've wasted my life. Don't be ridiculous.

Ridiculous? You have no right.

One doesn't humiliate a man like that.

Mr Louis wouldn't have allowed it.

What's all this? Times have changed.

Not for the better!

Goodnight! I'm going home, I'm not hungry.

Don't worry, he'll get over it... like all the others.

I'm more worried about your dress.

I'm waiting for an apology. What?

You bumped into me.

Me? Yes, you!

Apologize! I want you to apologize!

You're a witness... This individual insulted me.

He refuses to apologize!

You're crazy!

There he goes again! Shut up, you little jerk!




You damn coward!

Mr Ragueneau? Are you back?

Your wife called... She'd like you to call her.

An hors d'oeuvre?

Not for me... but have the rillettes.

It's a specialty here in Anjou.

You just want the pike au beurre blanc? Me, too...

It won't be as good as Ragueneau's.

He cooks? Very well!

What about the shops?

We don't talk about our gourmet shops...

Especially not to people we lay off in textiles.

They know! Anyway, Ragueneau hasn't been laid off yet.

He will be... He's conscientious but lacks imagination.

I wouldn't have any authority...

The other guy'd be the boss, I'd answer to him.

But you haven't been laid off.

Lucky me!

You don't understand.

Want to hear about the baby?

I'll call you back later. I mean, tomorrow.

Like most people...

I thought happiness was something I had coming to me... an inheritance...

...from an uncle in America.

America doesn't exist... I know, I lived there.

What did I tell you?

He's going to smash your face in.

Please excuse my behavior earlier on.

I was ridiculous.

I've already forgotten it.

Sit down... Have something to eat?

So you're a cooking enthusiast.

I would be... if our bosses left me more time.

Do I tell him about it?

What if they paid you to do it?

What? Cooking? Gastronomy.

What you're about to hear is confidential.

One of our executives is another cooking nut.

He wants to diversify. Though we're in textiles...

...we know about franchising.

Yes... A chain of about 40 food shops.

De luxe shops...

...selling gourmet products by great chefs.

Where do I fit in?

We'd need competent managers to run them.

What would that involve?

Checking product quality...

...helping customers make up a menu, select a wine...

...taste sample dishes...

Do you furnish the apron and chef's hat?

What's the use...

They had to dine out so often...

...that now all his wife can stomach is tea and toast.

But his mistress has a secret recipe for spaghetti carbonara.

Can't his wife make spaghetti?

Heretic! Carbonara is an art!

First, the eggs mustn't curdle...

You're not listening.

I'm tired...

God forgive me...

And the kids are just as bad...

I know of one girl who...

I'll call Ragueneau... Let's talk to him again.

We handled him badly.

Give me 622244.

Cholet, yes.

Yes, one moment.

Mr René, it's for you! Phone!

Mr Ragueneau, are you asleep?

Call a doctor, hurry! Call the police...

Hurry... He's hanged himself!

Barbiturates, too...

He may or may not pull through.

Poor guy...

I'll call his wife... maybe you could talk to her.

Must I go with you? What?

You don't really need me.

No. What will you do?

150 kilometers! It's very important to me.

Where can I call you?

Either the hotel or the hospital.

I'll call you in the morning.

But where are you going?

The strangulation caused a mild edema... Nothing serious.

He'll probably sleep 7 or 8 hours.

Since he has a strong constitution...

He never seemed the sort who'd do that.

Depression hits boxing champs as well as pensioners.

The Le Gall home? Yes. Do you want Mrs. Le Gall?

No, Mr. Le Gall. He isn't in.

I'll wait. He'll be back late.

He's hunting with Marquis de Villeneuve.

Who is it?

Jean isn't here! Wait!

I want to talk to you!

I know what you're going to say...

...but I don't regret a thing.

Jean belongs at home... it was the only way.

He needs stability... it's the key to his success.

His success?

Yes... Success!

For example, he'd never have written his book without me.

If you had children...'d have done just what I did!

May I use the phone?

Room 135, please.

He's out of danger! He was pretty far gone.

Us, too!

It doesn't solve anything. Why not?

He's unstable... Dangerous! He'll have to go.

Have to find a replacement... Got any ideas?

It doesn't hurt, see?

Where is Jean?

I won't tell you.

It shouldn't be hard to find the Villeneuve estate.

I may as well tell you.

It won't make any difference.

Jean told me he saw you yesterday. He tells me everything.

Talk to him. It won't change a thing.

I know he'll say I was right!

I know it!


Another one for you.

How do you do it, Senator?

It's a knack.

Did you hear that?

What was it? Someone get shot?

How'd she get in? You there! Get out of here!

Dumb bastards!

You could've been killed!

You aren't hurt?

It's all right!

No harm done! I'll be right with you!

What are you doing here?

I want to talk to you. I couldn't, yesterday.

All right, but not here.

I tried to write, but it was no good.

We can meet tomorrow...

We must talk now! We can't go on living with this stupid lie.

Listen to me!

I think I know why you're here.

When I told Arlette I'd seen you, she confessed everything...

...the whole story.

I was shattered... You were fantastic.

And I apologize for Arlette.

But she was fantastic, too... it took courage to tell that lie.

How she must have suffered!

At first, I was furious with her.

I didn't sleep all night.

By morning, I understood.

I realize it's better this way.

Arlette and I both cried...

Le Gall... You coming?

Telling your life story?

Not punching in?

Your job was to re-launch a business... Now you call for help.

We'll have to fight to be first. We'll be the guerrillas of fashion.

The unconscious is a formidable instrument.

Not only because it holds all that we have repressed...

...things too painful for us to express...

...because we'd be punished by society.

But also because all that is authorized...

...even rewarded by society...

...has been placed in our brain since birth.

We're unaware of its presence, and yet it guides our actions.

This unconscious (which is not Freud's) is the most dangerous.

What we call the personality of an individual... built up from a grab-bag of value judgments...

...prejudices and platitudes.

As he grows older, they become more and more rigid...

...less and less subject to question.

Take away one single stone from this edifice, and it all crumbles.

The result is anguish.

And anguish stops at nothing, neither murder...

...nor genocide... Nor war... the case of social groups.


We now begin... understand by what mechanism... why and how... the past and in the present...

...the hierarchies of dominance have been established.

To go to the moon, we must know the laws of gravity.

Knowing the laws of gravity doesn't make us free of gravity.

It merely allows us to utilize it.

Until we have...

...shown the inhabitants of this planet...

...the way their brain functions, the way they use it...

...until they know it has always been used to dominate others...

...there is little chance that anything will change...