Popular film wins Cannes, but "Antichrist" lingers

Mon May 25, 2009 6:38am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White and James Mackenzie

CANNES, France (Reuters) - The Cannes film festival ended with a popular winner in Austrian director Michael Haneke, but the starkest image at the world's biggest cinema showcase may be Lars von Trier's searing "Antichrist."

Haneke's "The White Ribbon" was awarded the coveted Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) at the closing ceremony late on Sunday, and the jury praised the 67-year-old for his understated, subtle examination of the roots of Nazi terror.

Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper on Monday called the film "the most anomalous, profound and alarming of the festival," while France's Le Figaro described it as "superb."

Shot in black-and-white, and set in a north German village on the eve of World War One, The White Ribbon explores how an oppressive upbringing can shape the way children act and think.

The director, whose last Cannes entry "Hidden" failed to grab the Golden Palm despite being the overwhelming favorite, insisted The White Ribbon was not just about the rise of fascism in Germany but of any kind of violent fanaticism.

There was mild grumbling among festival goers that French competition film "A Prophet" did not win.

Jacques Audiard's powerful prison drama topped critics' polls ahead of the awards ceremony, although it did receive the runner-up Grand Prix prize.

Several commentators noted that the jury president Isabelle Huppert starred in Haneke's 2001 "The Piano Teacher" and picked up the best actress award for it in Cannes.   Continued...

<p>Director Michael Haneke is congratulated by Jury President Isabelle Huppert after receiving the Palme d'Or award for the film "Das Weisse Band" during the award ceremony of the 62nd Cannes Film Festival May 24, 2009. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau</p>