While it seems rude to heckle or boo a movie at the local cineplex, it’s actually somewhat common at the Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off today. Hey, French moviegoers are pretty passionate about cinema—and they're not afraid to tell filmmakers how they really feel about their movies. Here are a few they've booed.
1. Pulp Fiction
While Quentin Tarantino’s sophomore effort Pulp Fiction didn’t get booed immediately after it premiered at the 47th Cannes Film Festival in 1994, it did receive a tidal wave of jeers when it received the festival’s highest prize, the Palme d’Or. Some audience members felt that Krzysztof Kieślowski’s final film Three Colors: Red should’ve won the prestigious award instead.
2. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
David Lynch’s follow-up to his wildly popular TV series was met with unrelenting boos at Cannes in 1992. There were reportedly plenty of walkouts and much vocal mocking during its premiere screening.
3. The Tree of Life
While the reaction to Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life was mostly positive, there was a small—and vocal!—minority of dissenting opinions during the film’s screening at Cannes in 2011. A segment of the premiere audience booed the film, but many in attendance felt the negative reaction was merely “counter-applause” for the overwhelming positive response to Malick's meandering feature. The Tree of Life was awarded the Palme d’Or and later received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.
Chaos reigned when Lars von Trier’s Antichrist premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. The film—about a couple who emotionally and psychologically break down after the death of their infant child—was met with laughter and jeers during its 108-minute running time. When the film ended, the audience’s boos were louder than positive applause. The festival’s Ecumenical Jury awarded Antichrist an “Anti-Award” for "the most misogynist movie from the self-proclaimed biggest director in the world.”
5. Crash (1996)
David Cronenberg’s Crash was met with jeers for its graphic sex and violence during the 49th Cannes Film Festival in 1996. Despite the negative reaction to the film, Crash received the festival’s Special Jury Prize.
6. Taxi Driver
Believe it or not, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver received a largely negative reaction when it premiered at Cannes in 1976; audiences didn't like the film’s violence, nihilistic point of view, and unsavory anti-hero. The film was booed when it was given the Palme d’Or, but Scorsese wasn't there to hear it: He was back in New York City with Taxi Driver's lead, Robert De Niro, working on the musical New York, New York.
Taxi Driver would later go on to receive four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Robert De Niro. The film was also selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
Michelangelo Antonioni’s L'Avventura (The Adventure) is now considered the Italian director’s masterpiece—but viewers at its initial screening during the 13th Cannes Film Festival in 1960 didn’t share that sentiment. L'Avventura received so much disdain from the festival audience that Antonioni and the film’s star Monica Vitti had to be rushed out of the theater in fear of the passionate reaction.
8. Marie Antoinette
In 2006, Sofia Coppola’s take on French history received an extremely negative reaction from Cannes audiences. The director was unaware of how audiences vocally react to movies in France. "I didn't know about the boos—it's news to me," she told USA Today. "But it's better than a mediocre response."
9. Southland Tales
Audiences reacted viciously to Richard Kelly’s follow-up to Donnie Darko when it premiered at Cannes in 2006. Many critics and festival attendees walked out or booed the convoluted film while it was screening. Southland Tales was unfinished at the time of its premiere, with a run time more than three hours; Kelly scrambled to cut the film down for its theatrical release in the States, where it flopped.
10. Only God Forgives
In 2013, Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn took his film Only God Forgives to the 66th Cannes Film Festival. Audiences and film critics weren’t so forgiving to Refn’s follow-up to his action drama Drive, and it was received with jeers for its non-narrative plot and unlikable characters.
11. Taking Woodstock
In 2009, Ang Lee released Taking Woodstock, a film that followed a family-run motel in the sleepy town of White Lake—which sits just outside of Woodstock, New York—during the famous music festival. The film received a spattering of boos during the 62nd Cannes Film Festival and is considered a low point in Lee's otherwise impressive career.
12. Wild at Heart
Although the film eventually won the Palme d’Or during the 43rd Cannes Film Festival in 1990, David Lynch’s Wild at Heart received audible jeers when it premiered. The film’s violence and torture scenes put off some audience members—but the film also had its admirers, who wildly cheered it all the way to the festival's top award.
13. Inglourious Basterds
Quentin Tarantino was lightly booed at the Cannes Film Festival for Pulp Fiction in 1994, and the director later received contempt for his World War II-era film Inglourious Basterds. Some audience members and critics took issue with Tarantino’s revisionist approach to World War II, while other felt that the film was too silly and self-indulgent for the festival.
14. The Brown Bunny
Director Vincent Gallo’s The Brown Bunny was notoriously booed and jeered for its monotonous tone and explicit sex scene during the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. Film critic Roger Ebert said the experience was “one of the most disastrous screenings I had ever attended.” The response out of Cannes was so destructive that Gallow vowed never to make a movie again. He added, “It was never my intention to make a pretentious film, a self-indulgent film, a useless film, an unengaging film."
15. The Voice of the Moon
Legendary Italian director Federico Fellini’s final film The Voice of the Moon (La voce della luna) was met with a large number of boos during the 43rd Cannes Film Festival in 1990. Critics panned the film, which they found boring and lifeless. Fellini died three years later in 1993.