My Dinner with Andre  

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Andre: They've built their own prison, so they exist a state of schizophrenia. They're both guards and prisoners and as a result they no longer have, having been lobotomized, the capacity to leave the prison they've made, or to even see it as a prison.


Andre: "OK. Yes, we are bored. We're all bored now. But has it ever occurred to you Wally that the process that creates this boredom that we see in the world now may very well be a self-perpetuating, unconscious form of brainwashing, created by a world totalitarian government based on money, and that all of this is much more dangerous than one thinks? and it's not just a question of individual survival Wally, but that somebody who's bored is asleep, and somebody who's asleep will not say no?"

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

My Dinner with Andre (1981) is a philosophical film starring Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn, written by Gregory and Shawn, and directed by Louis Malle.

Plot

The film depicts a conversation of two acquaintances in a chic restaurant in New York City. Based mostly on conversation, the film's dialog covers such things as experimental theatre, the nature of theatre, and the nature of life. The dialogue contrasts Shawn's modest, down-to-earth humanism with Gregory's extravagant New Age fantasies.

Gregory is the focus of the first hour of the film as he describes some of his experiences since he gave up his career as a theatre director in 1975. These include working with his friend Jerzy Grotowski and a group of Polish actors in a forest in Poland, his visit to Findhorn in Scotland and his trip to the Sahara to try and create a play based on The Little Prince. Perhaps Gregory's most dramatic experience was working with a small group of people on piece of performance art on Long Island which resulted in Gregory being (briefly) buried alive on Halloween night.

The rest of the film is a conversation as Shawn tries to argue that living life as Gregory has done for the past five years is simply not possible for the vast majority of people. In response, Gregory suggests that what passes for normal life in New York in the late 1970s is more akin to living in a dream than it is to real life. The movie ends without a clear resolution to the conflict in worldviews articulated by the two men.

Filming

The movie was filmed in the then-abandoned Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia. Although the film was based on actual events in the actors' lives, Shawn and Gregory denied (in an interview by film critic Roger Ebert) that they were playing themselves, and stated that if they remade the film they would swap the two characters to prove their point.

The Boston Society of Film Critics Awards awarded the film the title "Best American Film" in 1982 and awarded Gregory and Shawn its prize for best screenplay. Roger Ebert, along with his TV partner Gene Siskel, had also praised the film and helped bring public attention to it; in 1999, Ebert added it to his Great Movies essay series.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "My Dinner with Andre" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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