L’Avventura (1960): At nearly every Cannes Film Festival, a couple assholes actively and loudly make their negative opinions known. And what’s incredible is how often they’re dead wrong. When he premiered his artistic turning point, director Michelangelo Antonioini, along with star Monica Vitti, had to flee the theater due to catcalls and other assorted hysteria. A second screening went swimmingly, though, and the film nabbed both the Jury Prize and, very soon, classic status. After all, anything truly innovative will be initially loathed.
Gertrud (1964): The rumor is that 75-year-old Carl Theodor Dreyer (The Passion of Joan of Arc) flipped the audience the bird after they booed his swan song. In their slight defense, they were witnessing what was at that point one of the most purposefully slow films ever made. Unprepared in the era before Tarkovsky, Akerman and Tarr, critics wrote this transcendently glacial masterwork off as a “two-hour study of sofas and pianos” and reminiscent of the way filmmaking “used to be done before [D.W.] Griffith made a few technical innovations.”
L’Argent (1983): Audiences, however, were long used to the minimalist stylings of Robert Bresson (Pickpocket) by his final film—that was the problem. Audiences booed the 82 year old as he accepted the “Grand Prize for Creative Filmmaking” along with Andrei Tarkovsky, mostly because he was considered out of vogue. Kids those days, eh?
The Brown Bunny (2004): Antonioni, Dreyer and Bresson had thick skin, preserving their artistic vision against vitriol. After a disastrous premiere, which prompted a hilarious tussle (then reconciliation) with Roger Ebert, Vincent Gallo gouged a half hour from his minimalist grief saga. But was that a good thing?
Antichrist (2009): It’s almost as though Lars Von Trier (whose The Idiots was also booed) made this galvanizing horrorshow not for audiences but to elicit Cannes brouhaha. And it worked gangbusters, concluding with the director proclaiming himself the “greatest filmmaker in the world.” And he never said anything crazy at Cannes ever again.
The Tree of Life (2011): Terrence Malick’s booed bugfuck scored the Palme d’Or and an insane opening weekend per screen average of $122,250. Sorry, haters.