8 high-profile films that were booed at the Cannes Film Festival

  • 8 high-profile films that were booed at the Cannes Film Festival

With the 69th (hur hur) Cannes Film Festival starting on 11th May 2016, all the film stars, directors and film fans are flocking to the South of France to take in the wonderful weather and an unrivalled selection of some of the finest new films on the planet.

Some films aren't always well-receieved by the high-brow Cannes audiences and they will make their feelings extremely clear, often booing and storming out of films in contempt.

But sometimes, those films - which receieved such harsh Cannes treatment - go on to massive box office grossings and critical acclaim, or at least become noteworthy.

Taxi Driver

When it premiered at Cannes, Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece of violence and taxi driving was booed by the crowd and given a pasting by the audience when it was awarded the coveted Palme d'Or.

Cannes audiences didn't like the excessive violence, nihilistic point of view and anti-hero in the form of Travis Bickle - the president of the Cannes jury was concern about the amount of violence but deemed it too good not to award it the highest honour.

Scorsese and lead actor Robert De Niro weren't about to be showered with boos, as they were working on musical New York, New York, but both were vindicated when Taxi Driver won four Oscars and now it is regarded amongst the greatest films of all time.

Only God Forgives

Nicholas Winding Refn premiered his 2013 Bangkok-based psychological thriller at the 66th Cannes Film Festival.

Coming off the back of massive acclaim for Drive, Ryan Gosling again teamed up with Refn for the tale of a drug-smuggler who attempts to track down and kill his brother's murdered.

Audiences and critics at the festival were expecting another Drive, instead getting a non-narrative plot and unlikable characters, so booed it to the rafters.

Pulp Fiction

Regarded by many as Quentin Tarantino's finest film, but back in 1994, the Cannes crowd weren't so keen on the non-linear, interweaving tale of criminals going about their business.

While it wasn't booed when it was premiered, at the 47th festival, audiences didn't take kindly to it winning the festival's highest prize, the Palme d'Or and jeered the jury’s' choice.

The audience felt that Krzysztof Kieslowski’s final film Three Colors: Red should have won the prestigious award, instead of the film from some up-and-coming former video store employee.

The Tree of Life

Terrence Malick's meandering experimental drama starring Brad Pitt as a man who seeks the answers to the origins and meaning of life was booed by a small, but very vocal minority at Cannes.

Instead of reacting to the film's quality (or lack of), the boos were a "counter-applause" aimed at the overwhelmingly positive way the film was regarded by many at the festival before and after it was screened.

The Tree of Life went on to win Cannes' top prize, the Palme d'Or, and also bag a Best Picture Oscar nomination, so those "counter-applause" attempts didn't have their desired effect.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

Fans of the cancelled-too-early Twin Peaks TV series must have been delighted when creator David Lynch announced he had a three-picture deal for Twin Peaks, but their excitement came a bit prematurely.

Fire Walk with Me was a sequel, prequel and spin-off which charted the days leading up to Laura Palmer's murder - the main mystery on which the show hung - was given a chorus of boos and walk-outs throughout its screening at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival.

Quentin Tarantino was in the audience for the screening and was spotted flouncing out of the theatre in disgust; the foot-friendly director later said: "David Lynch has disappeared so far up his own ass that I have no desire to see another David Lynch movie until I hear something different. And you know, I loved him."

Due to the mostly overwhelming distain for Fire Walk with Me (except for in Japan, for some reason), Lynch never bothered making the two promised follow-up films.



Italian film fans now regard Michelangelo Antonioni’s L'Avventura (The Adventure) as the visionary director's masterpiece - some even consider it one of the best films ever made, but things weren't looking so swell for Antonioni in Cannes back in 1960.

Cannes audiences didn't take kindly to Antonioni’s story of a woman's disappearance which causes her lover and best friend to fall for each other, and barracked Antonioni and star Monica Vitti with boos and other abuse, prompting the pair to flee the theatre in fear.

Obviously a glutton for punishment, L'Avventura was screened again to a much more accepting audience and it was awarded the Jury Prize - the third-highest award at the film festival.


Avant-garde director Lars von Trier brought his experimental horror flick, about a grieving couple in a cabin in the woods who go mad with strange visions and violent sexual behaviour, to Cannes in 2009 as everyone kind of wished that he didn't.

The screening was met with laughter, jeers, boos and at least four people fainted due to the explicit violence, a Reuters report from the festival clarified: "jeers and laughter broke out during scenes ranging from a talking fox to graphically-portrayed gender mutilation."

When asked to justify the film, von Trier declared himself the best director in the world, while Cannes' ecumenical jury (which is actually a thing) gave the film a special "anti-award" and declared the film to be "the most misogynist movie from the self-proclaimed biggest director in the world".

The Da Vinci Code

Ron Howard's blockbuster adaptation of Dan Brown's unfathomly popular thriller, starring Tom Hanks tracking down the Holy Grail through codes in Leonardo Da Vinci's paintings, shouldn't have been expecting much in the way of praise from the notoriously high-brow Cannes crowd.

Audiences expressed their distain with jeers, whistles and hisses as The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw reported that the film was met with "a storm of incredulous laughter and the owl-looking hooting that French audiences use to expression derision."

Some of the exposition and explanations that Tom Hanks' character Robert Langdon provides, including things like "The Vitruvian Man! It's one of Leonardo da Vinci's most famous sketches!" were met with "prolonged laughter".

Despite this, the film grossed over $700 million and Ron Howard pumped out a follow-up Angels and Demons, and a third effort, Inferno, is set to come out this summer.

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