Forty years after its première in Cannes, Michel Piccoli and Andréa Ferreol came back to present Marco Ferreri's La Grande Bouffe in Cannes Classics, in front of a jam-packed and emotional audience, including director Cristian Mungiu, a member of the Jury.
"They didn't want to come. So much the worse for them." That was how Michel Piccoli recalled the missing giants: Marco Ferreri, Ugo Tognazzi, Marcello Mastroianni and Philippe Noiret. "They're all dead, it's extremely sad but it's no reason to stop us having a good time."
Very moved, Andréa Ferreol dedicated the screening to them, and to her father who had congratulated her on the movie even as the final credits were rolling, and as the scandal was starting to rumble. She told us how a woman had physically shaken her after the screening in Cannes, telling her that she was ashamed to be French. "But the scandal didn't stop there. It went on for months. Certain restaurants wouldn't let us in. Once, in an Italian restaurant, a couple came over to me and said: 'You are here, Madame, we're leaving'."
Before the screening, we met with Michel Piccoli, still marvelling at "this thoughtful impudent, provocative film, full of tenderness, full of anxiety, a film of extraordinary intelligences - in the plural". He remembered the public outrage with joy and astonishment: "The audiences were so shocked, so disturbed by what the film was about that they spat on it, out of panic…and then things calmed down a bit... and people began to see the film finally as a way of understanding how we might be going to end up. But with pleasure, with delight, with glee." He also told us: "Ferreri didn't realize how tragic the story of this film was. When he saw it, it frightened him, but he was really elated about it. If you like doing what you do and you set off a scandal it proves that something really powerful has happened."
Béatrice de Mondenard