The Cannes Film Festival, whose 65th edition plays from May 16 to 27, has immortalised Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe in an official poster.
The black and white picture shows Monroe in an intimate moment, seductively blowing a kiss. The image conveys an exhilarating flash of myth meeting reality.
Monroe was just 36 when she was found dead in bed. Officially, she had overdosed herself with sleeping pills, but 50 years after this tragic end in 1962, nobody is sure whether it was an accident or a suicide or a murder. Her affairs with the Kennedy brothers, two of the most powerful men in the USA then – President and the Attorney General – were no secret. Did she become inconvenient to one or both? Was the mafia involved in Monroe’s death? Questions with no answers yet, despite a sharp and bold media in America.
Her mysterious end, which followed a life that had moments of genuine love as it had periods of depressing rejection and disappointment, has added more allure to her persona, made her even more iconic that what she would have been otherwise.
And Marilyn Monroe remains after all these decades as sexily captivating as she was on screen, the innocence of her pout (matched today only by Angelina Jolie’s), and the allure of her frock flying in the breeze still a source of titillation.
Cannes of course believes that its lineup of serious cinema must be laced with something light and frothy. The Monroe poster is apparently that element, that element of magnetic glamour.
In the days to come, we would also see how Cannes subtly includes a dash of desirability in its main jury of heavyweights. Aishwarya Rai, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Emmanuel Beart among other beauties have been part of the black-tie brigade of jurors.
Cannes itself says the Festival is a temple of glamour and Marilyn is its perfect incarnation.
All this is very well, but my concern about what is undoubtedly the world’s most important movie festival is its Americanisation. Many years ago, I saw the stirrings of this when McDonalds opened its first restaurant on the Cannes Croisette or beach front. Since then, there has been a hard-to-miss Hollywoodisation of Cannes. Monroe’s poster seems to part of this.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran will be covering the Cannes Film Festival for hindustantimes.com this year)