Bob Fosse's "All That Jazz" and Japanese director Akira Kurosawa's "Kagemusha" won top honors yesterday at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival.
The Cannes jury, headed this year by Kirk Douglas, chose the two films from more than a score of other entries to receive the festival's prestigious Golden Palm awards.
It was the second year in a row that an American film was among the top winners at Cannes. Francis Coppola's "Apocalypse Now" was paired with Volker Schlondorff's "The Tin Drum" as the festival's outstanding films last year.
The jury chose French director Alain Resnais' new film "Mon Oncle d'Amerique" (My Uncle From America) for a "special jury's prize." Festival President Robert Favre-Lebret said the special prize was considered to have the same importance as the Golden Palm.
"Le Saut Dans le Vide," by Italian director Marco Bellochio, produced both top acting awards, with the jury selecting Michel Piccoli and Anouk Aimee as best actor and actress.
The three top prize-winning films were chosen over some impressive competition, including U.S. director Hal Ashby's "Being There," American Sam Fuller's "The Big Red One" and French director Jean-Luc Godard's "Sauve Qui Peut La Vie."
When the sun shines, Cannes is a blissful place to be. When it rains, you notice all the wrong things: the inevitable preponderance of bad movies over good, the theaters that let in more light around the edges than on the screen, the mob scenes that provoke arrests and multiple fractures, and the concierges of the large hotels who practice their sneers with a zeal that Stanislavsky would have applauded.
The high point of this year's festival was "Kagemusha," Kurosawa's triumphant comeback. Kurosawa is one of those legendary directors who (like Griffith, Stroheim and Welles in Hollywood) has been unable to make films in his own country. His last Japanese picture was made 10 years ago and since then there has been only one other, the Soviet production "Dersu Uzala." His triumphant return to Japan and its history was made possible only with the help of Francis Coppola, George Lucas and Twentieth Century-Fox, who co-produced it with Japan's Toho.
"Kagemusha," based on a true story of the Shogun era, is spellbinding both as spectacle and as psychological drama. A warlord, about to seize absolute power, is fatally wounded by a sniper. To deceive his enemies he makes his generals swear allegiance to his double, who was formerly a petty thief and has no military experience. He convinces everyone, and for three years the fiction is maintained. Then the double becomes too bold, mounts the ex-lord's warhorse and is thrown. Respect for him turns instantly to contempt, and the impulsive heir takes charge and leads the army into battle.
"All That Jazz" was a favorite among the critics and the film company executives who gather annually at the French resort for the two-week festival. eFosse's autobiographical movie, which won four Academy Awards this year, traces the last month in the life of the self-indulgent choreographer-director Joe Gideon, played by Roy Scheider.
Alain Resnais, best known for "Last Year at Marienbad," and more recently for "Stavisky" and "Providence," has never achieved the popularity of the other new wave French directors such as Truffaut, Godard, Malle and Chabrol. He belongs to a different generation and his films have been few and difficult. But "My Uncle From America" is arguably his finest: a drama of three intertwined lives counterpointed by observations from behavioral scientist Henri Labourit.
In recent years the Russians have sent a fat turkey as their official entry. Everyone groans and walks out. The Soviet jury member loyally votes it the Grand Prix and is overruled.It has become a pointless exercise, and this year, in a break with tradition, no Soviet film appeared in the official program.
Then -- ironically on the morning of the annual electrical workers' strike -- a surprise film was unveiled: Andret Tarkovsky's "The Stalker" -- a film previously announced for the Venice festival and procured not from the Soviets but from its French distributor. Tarkovsky (who made "Andrei Roublev," "Solaris" and "The Mirror") is the most talented and controversial of Soviet directors. "The Stalkers," loosely based on a science-fiction novel by the Strugatski brothers, is a vision of hell on earth -- a cinematically brilliant study of degradation and despair.
Among the American entries, the great discovery was Robert Kaylor's "Carny," a raw and exhilarating portrait of the traveling carnival and its colorful characters. Jodie Foster, Robbie Robertson and Gary Busey give sensational performances.