Palme Thursday: Want to win Cannes? Try pissing off the pope

Palme Thursday is A.A. Dowd’s monthly examination of a winner of the Palme D’Or, determining how well the film has held up and whether it deserved the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival.

Viridiana (1961) and The Long Absence (1961)

There was a time when the most surefire way to win Cannes was, apparently, to earn the condemnation of the pope. Okay, so maybe that only happened twice, but it was in consecutive years. La Dolce Vita, arguably the most celebrated movie by the legendary Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini, deeply offended the Catholic church, which objected especially to the symbolic Second Coming of the opening minutes, when a helicopter dangles a statue of Christ over the partiers and sunbathers of then-contemporary Rome. But the Vatican’s ire, strongly worded in the pages of official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, couldn’t stop Fellini’s portrait of …

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