The mob scene of a couple thousand critics pushing and shoving, pleading and shouting, to get in; the hushed anticipation as the film began; and at the end, the belligerent booing answered by defiant applause. What stoked the rucks? Not a Brad Pitt movie, though the dreamboat star has a central role, but a Terrence Malick film. And who, ask the children raised on Spielberg and Michael Bay, is Terrence Malick?
This morning's world premiere of Malick's The Tree of Life — hands down the most avidly anticipated film at Cannes 2011 — had all the angry urgency of legendary Festival screenings from the 1970s. Mary Corliss recalls the congestion at the old Palais at the first showing, in 1979, of Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now: the crowd was so tightly packed that it lifted her when it surged forward. As she was swept from the lobby into the auditorium, Mary's feet literally did not touch the ground.
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