Films depicting violence and sex dominated the 62nd edition of Cannes Film Festival, which draws the curtains tomorrow. Though the festival opened with light-hearted animated film Up but it failed to retain the same spirit with films by masters like Quentin Tarantino, Ang Lee, Von Trier, Johnnie To and Lou Ye being high on blood and gore. Heading the list was Danish director Lars Von Trier, whose Antichrist turned out to be festival's most controversial film.
The drama, starring American actor Willem Dafoe and Anglo-French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, highlights the grief of a married couple who lose their baby son in an accident and retire to a forest house for solace. There they inflict unimaginable torture and pain on each other. The work features graphic scenes of sex, extreme cruelty and genital self-mutilation.
Antichrist was slammed by the critics. Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere declared that "Antichrist represented easily one of the biggest debacles in the festival history and the complete meltdown of a major film artist in a way that invites comparisons to the sinking of the Titanic."
French director Gaspar Noe's Enter The Void also courted controversy and sparked walk-outs at the screening with its explicit depiction of sex scenes and an aborted foetus.
Quentin Tarantino, who won the Palme d'Or for his 1994 Pulp Fiction, returned this year with World War II drama Inglorious Basterds. Starring Hollywood A-lister Brad Pitt as Lieutenant Aldo Raine, the film saw Pitt ordering his men to bring him 100 Nazi scalps.
Tarantino said the film could be viewed as a "Jewish revenge fantasy featuring as it does a band of Jewish-American soldiers who exact bloody retribution on the Nazis behind enemy lines in France".
Similarly, Jacques Audaird of France gave a blade to his young convict-protagonist in his A Prophet pushing him towards the jugular of a political prisoner with the blood turning murderer's white shirt into red.
Hong Kong based director Johnnie To's Vengeance was high on violence and revenge. To turned his hero into a modern-day western cowboy and, in the bargain, littered the screen with bullet-ridden bodies.
South Korea's Park Chan-Wook settled for intimate violence in Thirst. His young Christian priest becomes a vampire thirsting for blood instead of the Holy Water.
Brillante Mendoza's Kinatay specialised in rape, knife attacks and dismemberment. Controversial Chinese filmmker Lou Ye's entry, Spring Fever harped on suicide and physical disfigurement.
After his 2006 Summer Palace at Cannes, Beijing had banned Ye from making films for five years. But this enfant terrible from China was not to be shackled, he made Spring Fever secretly and got it into Cannes competition list.