10 Movies Booed At Cannes

Features
by Drew Taylor
May 15, 2013 2:35 PM
37 Comments
  • |

"Taxi Driver" (Martin Scorsese)
The movie
: Martin Scorsese's dark look at violent life of a loner Vietnam vet (Robert De Niro) who befriends a young prostitute (Jodie Foster) and becomes obsessed with a political campaign worker (Cybil Shepherd).
The reaction
: Today, Cannes is known for its almost shellacked gorgeousness, but in the '70s it was a different, altogether more dangerous time. As Entertainment Weekly noted, the year before "Taxi Driver" screened at Cannes, a bomb went off in the main viewing hall on the opening day. The year after "Taxi Driver" screened, another bomb was discovered in the same hall (it was safely defused by French police). This was the atmosphere where "Taxi Driver," a singularly nihilistic and violent film, debuted. The boos are almost understandable in that context. The noteworthy aspect of "Taxi Driver"'s booing was that it occurred not only during the screenings of the film, but during the awards ceremony too (Scorsese wasn't there, he was back in the states toiling away on "New York, New York"). Even that year's jury president Tennessee Williams (!) worried that the level of violence was too much, but the sheer brilliance of "Taxi Driver" overtook him and the rest of the jury, and the film was awarded with the top prize – Palme d'Or. 
After Cannes
: While now considered a bona fide classic, controversy surrounded the film long after Cannes. In 1981, when John Hinckley, Jr. tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan, he cited the film as inspiration and said that he attempted the killing to impress Jodie Foster. The incident shook Scorsese to the point that he quietly vowed to not make movies again. (Thankfully, he went back on that.) The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and the American Film Institute named it the 52nd greatest American film of all time. In 1994, it was selected to be preserved in the National Film Registry.

"Taking Woodstock" (Ang Lee)
The movie
: A sweet comedy about a motel owner's son (Demetri Martin) who helps convince his town to hold the world-changing Woodstock musical festival.
The reaction
: Unlike many Cannes reactions, which pour on the acidic vitriol until there's nothing left of the movie but a lumpy puddle, the response to "Taking Woodstock" was more subtle and chillier. The New York Times noted that the film "lacked the passion of Mr. Lee's finest films," while many (including Indiewire) took issue with its "messy historical fiction." The Film Review put it like this: "Remember when critics booed Sofia Coppola at the 'Marie Antoinette' screening to the point she probably wished she could chop off her own head? Well former darling Ang Lee, who once wowed with 'Brokeback Mountain' and 'Lust, Caution,' got a taste of the other side when his film 'Taking Woodstock' debuted." Besides the smattering of boos, he was also met with indifference at the press conference, where he attempted to defend the movie's "romantic" view of the late sixties as "the last piece of innocence we had." In short: the response wasn't particularly groovy, man.
After Cannes
: Somewhat bafflingly, the film wasn't released to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of the Woodstock Festival (and the Summer of Love) but was, instead, released at the ass-end of summer, with little fanfare or support. The critics weren't any more enthusiastic than they were at Cannes, with Melissa Anderson saying that the movie simply "recycles 60's tropes" and is "prone to the laziest, wide-eyed oversimplifications," full of "inane, occasionally borderline offensive portrayals of Jews, performance artists, trannies, Vietnam vets, squares, and freaks." Thank god someone stood up for the performance artists! In hindsight, the movie is something of a lull in Ang Lee's career; a passable, visually engaging little movie that doesn't reach the highs of his Oscar-winning "Brokeback Mountain" or "Life of Pi."

"Inglourious Basterds" (Quentin Tarantino)
The movie
: A team of renegade American GIs (led by Brad Pitt) scalp Nazis behind enemy lines in a fantastical version of World War II-era Occupied France.
The reaction
: While booing was reported, it was hardly confirmed (Anne Thompson said that while it wasn't booed, it wasn't exactly rapturously loved either and called the movie a "defiantly art film"), instead a fog of indifference settled around the movie. The Hollywood Reporter at the time noted that "things we think of as being Tarantino-esque, the long stretches of wickedly funny dialogue, the humor in the violence and outside characters strutting across the screen, are largely missing." British critics summed up the divide, with The Guardian awarding it a single star and saying that it was an "armor-plated turkey," while the BBC marked it as "a glorious, silly, blood-splattered return to form." Two things to note: one, Tarantino was used to the booing. In 1994 when "Pulp Fiction" won the Palme d'Or, Tarantino was booed when he accepted the award, largely because most thought that the more deserving film that year was the final (and most devastating) film in Krzysztof Kieslowski's colors trilogy, "Red." Secondly, that version of "Inglourious Basterds" that was screened at Cannes was not the same one that was released in theaters at the end of the summer. The Cannes cut was slightly longer and, from what we understand, baggier, and Tarantino fine-tuned several major scenes when he returned to Hollywood in June.
After Cannes
: What makes the reaction at Cannes so funny is how wildly discordant it was with how the film was responded to when it actually opened theatrically. While some critics repeated their disappointment (and unease with the movie's fast-and-loose interpretation of very real, very painful historical beats), the majority responded favorably. And what's more – it was a smash hit with audiences, Tarantino's biggest (until "Django Unchained"), with more than $300 million worldwide. It also racked up eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. It won in the Best Supporting Actor category for Christoph Waltz, who played "Jew hunter" Hans Landa.

Of course, many more movies have been audibly taunted at Cannes: to name but a few, there was "The Voice of the Moon," "The Idiots," "L'Avventura," "L'Eclipse," "We Own the Night," "Tropical Malady," "Palermo Shooting," "Under the Sun of Satan," "Wild at Heart," "Crash" (David Cronenberg's, of course), "The Mother and the Whore," "Seconds," "Gertrud," and "L'Argent." Most of them, of course, didn't deserve the response they got, but are there any that you would have jeered as the lights came up? Let us know in the comments section.


You might also like:
Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

37 Comments

  • JeanieOwen15 | May 31, 2013 8:50 AMReply

    Good article. Sorry about the rip-offs.

  • WendyField30 | May 27, 2013 7:25 AMReply

    until I saw the bank draft which had said $7061, I didnt believe ...that...my father in law actually receiving money in there spare time from there pretty old laptop.. there neighbour haz done this for under 6 months and resantly cleard the morgage on there cottage and bourt a top of the range Porsche 911. read more at, Bow6.com

  • Carol | May 25, 2013 4:39 AMReply

    Not sure if you guys noticed, but Filmstage ripped this feature off lock, stock and barrel. Not the first time either...

  • Rosalie | May 19, 2013 4:40 AMReply

    Maurice Pialat, after receiving the Palme d'Or for "Under the Sun of Satan" and being booed by the audience : "If you don't like me, let me tell you that I don't like you either !"

  • Lou | May 20, 2013 11:10 AM

    Beautiful, beautiful film.

  • GERARD KENNELLY | May 18, 2013 10:56 PMReply

    http://www dot movie2k.to/Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-watch-movie-2966030.html

  • Kate Bradford | May 17, 2013 11:54 AMReply

    I couldn't make it through "The Tree of Life", so I'll definitely side with the haters on that one. I would have been the one cheering enthusiastically for "Inglorious Basterds", however. It's definitely one of Tarantino's best.

  • Samit | May 17, 2013 8:47 AMReply

    Great job done by them, really appreciable ...


    Aaron Emmett

  • Major Kalas | May 16, 2013 7:21 PMReply

    ...after reading the book I realized that Da Vinci Code and Angels And Demons are far better movies then they appear. No wonder DVC is on the list however...

  • Richard Rey | May 16, 2013 3:46 PMReply

    Nice work -- very creative feature.

  • Gatsby | May 16, 2013 7:19 AMReply

    Tennessee Williams was a judge. Wow!

  • oogle monster | May 15, 2013 9:23 PMReply

    "Who's booing now, bitches?" -> That was totally unexpected and hilarious- I actually laughed out loud.

  • Tobi | May 17, 2013 9:06 AM

    Same here, funny loose writing about Cannes of all things!

  • DG | May 15, 2013 5:33 PMReply

    Fuck, I can see booing when the credits roll but booing DURING the movie? Come on Cannes that's just rude. I'm really surprised Basterds was booed too, even a longer cut. It's Tarantinos best movie (IMO) and even if you didn't like some of his stylistic flourishings I don't see whats. It that boo-worthy.

  • pol | May 15, 2013 4:29 PMReply

    "Somewhat bafflingly, the film wasn't released to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of the Woodstock Festival (and the Summer of Love) ..."

    Um. Woodstock was '69. Summer of Love was '67.

    politicalfilm.wordpress.com

  • Boby | May 15, 2013 4:19 PMReply

    Where the hell is Gaspar Noé's Irréversible ? And Marco Ferreri's La Grande Bouffe ? I think they were far more "booed" than something like Taking Woodstock. But I guess they are not very famous movies and they are not made by wellknown directors.

  • andrew | May 15, 2013 3:54 PMReply

    Shame to hear that QT didn't care for Twin Peaks. It's one of my favorite Lynch flicks, but to each is own.

  • zatopek | May 15, 2013 4:21 PM

    I think I heard someone say after Django Unchained: "Tarantino has disappeared so far up his own ass that I have no desire to see another Tarantino movie until I hear something different. And you know, I loved him."

  • ben | May 15, 2013 3:39 PMReply

    "The Brown Bunny" is a piece of shit. It's not so much a movie as it's a 95 minute exercise in narcissism. The film world is so much better without this hack and all his nonsense.

  • Amanda | May 16, 2013 3:22 PM

    @zatopek, my sentiments, exactly.

  • zatopek | May 15, 2013 3:47 PM

    The Brown Bunny is great. So is Buffalo '66.

  • saim | May 15, 2013 3:03 PMReply

    Tree of Life deserved the booing, and it certainly didn't deserve the Palme D'or. It's almost just as ridiculous as giving it the screenplay award.

  • Lou | May 16, 2013 12:59 PM

    Ditto.

  • shark | May 15, 2013 8:36 PM

    At the very least, the reaction to the booing of Tree of Life was immature on the part of ToL's fans. Booing is a storied, legitimate Cannes tradition. Also, yes, totally, it didn't deserve the Palme. It's pretty but totally vacant.

  • bohmer | May 15, 2013 3:12 PM

    troll x 4

  • saim | May 15, 2013 3:02 PMReply

    Tree of Life deserved the booing, and it certainly didn't deserve the Palme D'or. It's almost just as ridiculous as giving it the screenplay award.

  • saim | May 15, 2013 3:02 PMReply

    Tree of Life deserved the booing, and it certainly didn't deserve the Palme D'or. It's almost just as ridiculous as giving it the screenplay award.

  • saim | May 15, 2013 3:02 PMReply

    Tree of Life deserved the booing, and it certainly didn't deserve the Palme D'or. It's almost just as ridiculous as giving it the screenplay award.

  • tristan eldritch | May 15, 2013 2:58 PMReply

    To me, The Da Vinci Code and MAYBE Southland Tales are the only of these movies that truly deserved booing. Olivier Assayas' brilliant Demonlover was also booed if memory serves, (or was it Boarding Gate?)

  • Lou | May 16, 2013 1:01 PM

    Da Vinci's Code: Awful movie.

  • Krista Now | May 15, 2013 3:08 PM

    (And Demonlover is also great in my opinion, one of my favorite of him with Irma Vep)

  • Krista Now | May 15, 2013 3:07 PM

    Southland Tales is fucking awesome. Richard Kelly's movies are totally fascinating and even if this one is far from being perfect, it's still amazing, with pure moments of genius.

  • yer | May 15, 2013 2:39 PMReply

    It's kind of misleading to have The Tree of Life on here as the rest of the films were actually widely booed by the entire crowd while TTOL had some small group of idiots deciding to be rowdy which were immediately drowned out by applause. Source: I was there. Basterds wasn't booed either. Rest of them are accurate.

  • balz | May 21, 2013 12:56 AM

    i was at one of the main inglorious basterds screenings in the palais and it got big applause/laughs throughout. it wasn't the premiere but people loved it, and the film was actually SHORTER by one scene. pretty much the same edit too. still a masterpiece and ridiculously hated on by hasty critics at cannes.

  • balz | May 21, 2013 12:56 AM

    i was at one of the main inglorious basterds screenings in the palais and it got big applause/laughs throughout. it wasn't the premiere but people loved it, and the film was actually SHORTER by one scene. pretty much the same edit too. still a masterpiece and ridiculously hated on by hasty critics at cannes.

  • balz | May 21, 2013 12:56 AM

    i was at one of the main inglorious basterds screenings in the palais and it got big applause/laughs throughout. it wasn't the premiere but people loved it, and the film was actually SHORTER by one scene. pretty much the same edit too. still a masterpiece and ridiculously hated on by hasty critics at cannes.

  • Jesu | May 15, 2013 3:30 PM

    I dunno, Basterds definitely had a tepid, "huh, that's it?" kinda response with scattered applause. American audiences definitely took to it better. Some people obvs didn't love TOL at first either and it's definitely grown in stature with multiple viewings. A lot of the early reviews were head scratchers.

Email Updates