Cannes: Anatomy of Standing Ovation for ‘French Post’

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CANNES, France — Wes Anderson has been waiting for a long time. “French Post” It will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

“French Dispatch,” a star-studded comedy anthology about the latest issue of a literary magazine, was due to run here until last year’s pandemic prevented the festival from being held. Instead of putting the film out of the way, Anderson held onto it for another year, and at the flamboyant Cannes premiere on Monday night, he finally got his wish.

So is the film festival. Cannes mainly works on auteur worship and movie stars, and “French Dispatch” has offered a lot of help to both. The cast, including Timothée Chalamet, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Benicio Del Toro, and Owen Wilson, supported Anderson’s film and contributed to almost certainly the biggest movie premiere held since the pandemic began.

Cannes responded in the same way, and the audience at the Grand Théâtre Lumière gave “French Shipment” a nine-minute standing ovation after the closing credits. This epic-length applause is one of the festival’s best-known quirks, but to outsiders the applause must be surprising: Does the audience really stand up and applaud that long? Doesn’t this age quickly?

Let me explain how standing ovation works at Cannes, using last night’s standing O for “French Dispatch” as the minute-by-minute model. While it may seem like he wants it to end as soon as it starts, it’s a round of applause that Anderson has been waiting for for over a year.

1 second: The credits end, the lights come on, and the cheering spectators stand up. A cameraman runs into the middle of the theater where Anderson and his crew are sitting. As he filmed them, the image was simultaneously broadcast on Lumière’s big screen, further increasing the crowd’s applause.

6 seconds: Even though Anderson is up from his seat, the rest of his roster remains in place. Nervous tries to persuade them to stand by him, but the actors hold on tight: they want Anderson to have his own moment when he can be singularly applauded for his work.

36 seconds: A half-minute compliment is about the only thing Anderson can visibly endure discomfort with. To her right is Chalamet and actress Lyna Khoudri, who plays the French revolutionaries in the film, and Anderson begs them to stand up. They begin, but remain seated when Chalamet looks around and sees that no other actor gets up.

45 seconds: Murray stands up and waves to the cheering audience. You can see the rest of the cast doing mental calculations: “Well, if Bill Murray is going to get up, I think it’s time to get up.” All rise.

1 minute 10 seconds: Murray pulls out a fan and starts blowing cold air at his director. Hey, if the standing ovation is going to last a few minutes, you better sprinkle some comic book pieces to pass the time.

1 minute 30 seconds: actor Mathieu Amalric pulls out his iPhone and begins recording a video of the cast. Don’t make it up, because everyone at Lumière has an iPhone trained on it.

1 minute 50 seconds: Swinton descends the line of his collaborators, placing a double kiss on the cheeks of del Toro and Adrien Brody. Let me try to describe Swinton’s outfit, which consists of a satin pink blouse, sparkly green sleeves and an orange skirt: It looks like the most flamboyant fruit plate you’ve ever seen.

2 minutes: How can a person who gets a standing ovation in Cannes stand up after two minutes? Here’s the trick: The Lumière cameraman, who previously recorded a wide view of the cast, now moves on to continuous close-ups of each actor. This allows the audience to give each actor their own round of applause and is also why Cannes movies with a large audience tend to have longer applause.

2 minutes 20 seconds: As the camera pans to Khoudri from Amalric’s close-up, Brody leaps out of the very end of the cast and heads to where the action is. He hugs Amalric, who is near the front of the line, and the camera pulls back to cover him.

2 minutes 37 seconds: Now Chalamet gets his close-up. “Thanks,” Chalamet says as the audience applauds wildly. He then points to Anderson, urging the cameraman to shoot him instead.

2 minutes 55 seconds: Anderson stands next to Wilson and seems completely disinterested in enduring another half-minute of the audience’s prolonged attention. The camera instead finds Cannes veteran Swinton, who has appeared in three films here this year. Although Swinton is a seasoned pro at accepting a standing ovation, he shakes his head no and signals his director. He finally takes the initiative and pushes the camera towards Anderson.

3 minutes 23 seconds: The cameraman lingers in a close-up of Anderson, who leads the weary crowd to another round of applause and cheers. But it’s clear that the director didn’t know what to do with himself when the frame was the only focus. She is rescued by Murray, who comes for another hug.

3 minutes 53 seconds: Brody bends down and kisses Anderson on the cheek and ruffles his hair. We’re not even halfway through this.

4 minutes 30 seconds: Swinton takes the “Tilda Swinton” banner taped from his seat and affixes it to the back of Chalamet’s silver jacket. We came to the improvisation-comedy part of the night.

5 minutes 25 seconds: After placing del Toro at the end of the cast, the cameraman now fulfilled his obligation to allow each actor their own solo applause session. So what will keep the applause going? do evil. The camera returns to Chalamet, who hides his face with the “Tilda Swinton” sign. Swinton snatches it from his hand and tapes it back to his back where it belongs.

5 minutes 50 seconds: Now hugging Brody, Chalamet turns to the camera and “LA fingers” Hand gesture. Brody sends a very serious kiss to the camera.

6 minutes 5 seconds: Yes, we’re entering the 6th minute. Anderson takes out a pink handkerchief and wipes his forehead. He looks old.

6 minutes 35 seconds: Chalamet turns to Anderson and bows “I am not worthy”. The applause begins to wane a little. It’s time to take out the big guns.

7 minutes 7 seconds: Anderson is given a microphone. He grimaces and tries to turn her away, but Cannes officials still press their hands.

7 minutes 15 seconds: Living in Paris, Anderson begins speaking French to the audience. He calls the premiere “un honneur pour moi,” but seven seconds after that he turns to Chalamet and says in English, “I don’t know what else to say.” The audience laughs and Anderson adds, “Hopefully we’ll be back with another one soon. Thank you so much.”

7 minutes 30 seconds: Anderson’s brief speech was enough to resurrect the crowd, and applause returned to their original level.

7 minutes 50 seconds: “Bravo!” with a few French accents. Anderson can be heard combing the audience with her long hair tucked behind her ears.

8 minutes 24 seconds: Murray goes to Anderson and says he’s ready to go. Anderson runs so fast down the hall that he bumps into the cameraman who is still filming him.

8 minutes 40 seconds: Looks like the cameraman blocked Anderson’s path. It won’t get rid of that easily! Instead, Anderson is forced to stand in the aisle and absorb more applause and encouraging whistles from the crowd. The expression on his face is somewhere between a strange grimace and pure, bewildering joy; that’s about what a nine-minute standing ovation will do to you.

9 minutes: The cameraman softens and lets Anderson move forward. As the director and cast leave the theater, the applause finally subsides. The French are out to smoke, the Americans are popping out to tweet, and I hear one mournful question in several different languages: “Is there an after-party?”

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