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64th Cannes Film Festival (11 - 22 may, 2011)
“Divine Symphony’s” victory over “Human Generosity”
by Mohammad Haghighat

  When the Cannes Film Festival ends, the Palme d’Or’s life begins. This was the year when a distinguished American filmmaker, Terence Malick was finally honored, and his film, The Tree of Life, won the Golden Palm, although not all were unanimous about whether his film deserved the honor. A number of people expected The Tree of Life to arrive at Cannes last year, however it seems it lacked sufficient irrigation, and we had to wait another year before it could have strong enough roots to hold it up in the air. Everybody knows Terrence Malick, and everybody knows he has made only five films in his whole career. On the other hand, since Aki Kaurismaki’s Le Havre was shown in the Festival, it was praised so much by all that many people thought it was going to be the main candidate to win the Palme d’Or. This film which is mainly about the human generosity, had affected everybody. As opposed to that, The Tree of Life can be seen as a divine symphony which shows the nature’s grace and its captivating beauty, which then takes a trip into the galaxy and prostrates in front of it. Terence Malick was certainly inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and added a Messianic dimension and a metaphysical quest to it. That’s basically why film critics were divided into two camps over the film; for and against. The day after the Festival’s last day, the city suddenly looked like a ghost town. There were no more erupting volcanoes. Cannes was over! The loudspeakers in the theaters would make no more demands of “Ladies and Gentlemen, please silence your mobiles. The film will be projected now!” No more applause will be heard. No more hellos; no more smiles. Ladies and Gentlemen, Cannes is over! When Cannes is over, some critics who got upset because of any number of reasons will write that they will never attend the Festival anymore, but a few months before the next Festival, they’ll be like thirsty onlookers on the banks of Cannes, running towards the Palace. Cannes is over but the staff is already busy with programming the 2012 edition, the year when Gilles Jacob will vacate his seat as the president of the Festival. Cannes will look for another conductor, just like France who will be looking for a new President, both of which will occur in May 2012.

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Half of the 20 entries in the main competition were excellent films, plus some good films and some more which were not so good. Woody Allen’s excellent Midnight in Paris was shown in the opening night, to start the Festival with a joyful note. It’s been a while since Woody Allen, the Great New Yorker, has been making films in European cities, every one of which has been successful and interesting, to say the least. In this film, an American couple who have plans for a wedding in the next fall spend a few days in Paris during the summer. The man, who is a writer and loves the Paris art scene of the early 20th century, goes out for a walk during the night, and exactly when the clocks hit the midnight chimes, he sees an old car in one of the side streets, and the driver invites him for a ride. Thus, the daydreaming writer takes an imaginary trip to the charming turn of the century Paris, and encounters the great artists and writers of the era, chats with them and participates in their parties. His meeting with Hemmingway, Dali, Bunuel and others are extraordinary. Woody Allen was inspired by his love of Paris. He first shows the City as seen in post cards and tourist photos, to prepare the audience for what’s coming. This is the second time that Dariush Khonji, the Iranian born cinematographer, takes the helm for Allen, and he’s been successful in turning out the fantastic atmosphere of Paris. The writer goes out during the night, and walks into the wonderful world of that era, while he spends the days with his fiancée in the modern Paris. Their dialogues which reflect the time difference are very funny, and the trip into the world of fantasy is always a joyful one...

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