Palme d’Or Winners

The Cannes Film Festival just finished in the south of France this weekend and as usual the festival included a who’s who of internationally recognized filmmakers presenting their films in competition for the prestigious Palme d’Or award. So check out one of these Palme d’Or winning films in our collection and see if they have managed to hold up over time.

Wages of Fear

Winner of the 1953 Palme d’Or(known as the Grand Prix then) this taut thriller captivated audiences and still stands as one of the great white-knuckle films in the history of cinema. Directed by the French filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot, who was one of Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite filmmakers, the film is the story of four men down on their luck who are hired by an American oil company to drive two trucks full of nitroglycerin over a mountain route to put out an oil well fire. With each bump and turn the men know they can be blown up, and they soon find the mental strain of the journey tearing them apart. Starring the famous French actor and singer Yves Montand, this film also made Clouzot famous and allowed him to make his next masterpiece Les Diaboliques.

Blowup

One of the definitive films of the 1960’s counterculture, Michelangelo Antonioni’s moody film exceeded decency standards in the United States and transfixed audiences around the world. Starring Vanessa Redgrave Blowup is the story of a famous fashion photographer in swinging 1960s’ London who may or may not have witnessed a murder while photographing a couple in the park. At the time risque drug use and nudity were not common in a major motion picture release in the United States, and MGM studios released the film under a subsidiary after failing to gain approval from the MPAA ratings board.The film also features a soundtrack by Herbie Hancock and includes a scene with the Yardbirds playing in a club and Jeff Beck smashing his guitar.

The Tin Drum

Based on the classic novel by Gunter Grass this surrealist German film tells the story of a three year-old boy named Oskar,  who throws himself down the stairs to prevent himself from growing up. Also on his third birthday Oskar receives a tin drum that he carries with him throughout his life. This darkly comic film is set in early 20th century Germany and follows Oskar and his family through the rise of Nazism up until 1939. Not only did this film a joint win the Palme d’or, it would also go on to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film at the 1980 Academy Awards.

Rosetta

Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne are brothers who are currently making some of the most renowned naturalistic films about working class or impoverished Europeans. The film that brought them significant international attention was Rosetta, which won the Palme d’Or in 1999. Rosetta is the story of a young girl who was recently fired from her job and is unable to obtain unemployment. She also lives in a trailer park with her alcoholic mother who refuses to work or get help. After befriending a young man named Riquet, who works at a waffle stand, Rosetta is able to briefly work at the same waffle stand before being fired by the owner because his son failed out of school. Rosetta soon makes a series of desperate decisions as she becomes overwhelmed by despair.

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