Cannes Film Festival has been clouded in controversy once again after a screening of a new movie starring Kristen Stewart and Lea Seydoux resulted in several audience members fleeing the theater in outrage over the graphic scenes of violence depicted during the film.
Crimes of the Future, which is directed by David Cronenberg, sparked fury among guests at the prestigious annual event, with critics speaking out to slam its ‘grotesque’ depictions of child autopsies, bloody intestines, body mutations, and open wounds being licked.
But while the controversial thriller has likely won the crown for this year’s most scandalous Cannes screening, it is by no means the only movie to have prompted viewer walkouts over the years.
In fact, the flick joins a long list of graphic and violent films that have been panned by guests during the festival’s decades-long history – which has, in the past, seen viewers vomiting and even fainting in reaction to some of the shocking scenes shown on its screens.
Several audience members got up and walked out of the screening of Crimes of the Future (pictured) during the Cannes Film Festival on Monday night, due to the film’s graphic scenes
The highly-acclaimed Cannes Film Festival – which takes place in the South of France during the month of May each year – previews new films of all genres from around the world.
It was started in 1946, and over the years, the star-studded event has been no stranger to controversy – showing a slew of scandalous movies which depicted explicit sex scenes, brutal rapes, and extreme violence.
Some films have left the audience so uncomfortable that many people got up and left midway, as was the case with Stewart-led Crimes of the Future – and in a few instances, they made viewers physically sick.
In the wake of the recent walk-out, FEMAIL has taken a look back at some of the other gruesome movies which did not go over well at the film festival – including one which contained a 3-D penis that ejaculated at the audience and another which depicted a horrifying sexual assault that was so bloody it resulted in audience members fainting and throwing up.
‘One of the worst films of the festival’: Crimes of the Future (2022)
The David Cronenberg-directed movie – which stars Kristen Stewart (pictured) – showed ‘grotesque’ depictions of child autopsies, bloody intestines, and body mutations
From horrific violence to very graphic sex scenes, FEMAIL has uncovered the most controversial Cannes movies of all time. Stills from Crimes of the Future are pictured
Crimes of the Future, which is set to come out on June 3, sees the human species undergoing mutations while adapting to a synthetic new environment.
Set in the near future, the film stars Viggo Mortensen and Seydoux as a performance artist couple who grow and remove new organs on stage in front of a live audience.
Stewart plays an investigator with the National Organ Registry, who is looking into Accelerated Evolution Syndrome, the disease that allows them to carry out their performance.
Set in the near future, the film stars Viggo Mortensen and Lea Seydoux (left) as a performance artist couple who grow and remove new organs on stage in front of a live audience. Stewart (right) plays an investigator with the National Organ Registry
Before the viewing, director Cronenberg had a strong feeling that the polarizing movie would make people want to get up and leave.
He warned in a previous interview: ‘There are some very strong scenes. I mean, I’m sure that we will have walkouts within the first five minutes of the movie. I’m sure of that.
‘Some people who have seen the film have said that they think the last 20 minutes will be very hard on people, and that there’ll be a lot of walkouts. Some guy said that he almost had a panic attack.’
New York Times journalist Kyle Buchanan tweeted from the theater that she counted 15 people who walked out of the cinema during the screening.
However it was not just the graphic violence and gore that prompted negative reviews from some viewers, with one critic accusing Cronenberg of not only sharing too many horrifying scenes – but of doing so in a ‘dull’ manner.
The Times’ film critic Kevin Maher said of the movie: ‘It is immediately one of the great mysteries of cinema that a film featuring mutant ballet dancers, open-air surgery and eroticized wound-licking could be punishingly dull, but the veteran director David Cronenberg has managed it.
‘This dystopian parable, one of the most anticipated titles in Cannes, has turned out to be one of the worst films of the festival.’
Stewart defended the theme of the movie while chatting with the Independent.
‘One of the things that the movie asks is who’s allowed to deem art “art” or not? What we’re doing now could be art to someone,’ she explained.
‘But there are certain people that become so frenzied around human beings that are compelled to externalize their inner life, and there’s a jealousy thing that drives people crazy.
‘It’s a beautiful thing to excavate yourself and show it to the world. Not everyone does it and not everyone is capable of it. But it’s definitely something that humans lean toward.’
At the end of the Cannes showing, despite the walk-outs and negative reviews, the film was given a seven-minute standing ovation from remaining audience members.
‘Disgusting and vile’: The House That Jack Built (2018)
More than 100 people walked out of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival viewing of The House That Jack Built (pictured), after it featured two young children getting murdered
The thriller starred Matt Dillon and Uma Thurman, and it followed a serial killer named Jack who committed a series of murders across Washington throughout the ’70s and ’80s
The movie contained gruesome scenes of Dillon (pictured in the flick) mutilating his victims – including one in which he sliced off a woman’s breast
More than 100 people walked out of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival viewing of The House That Jack Built, after it featured two young children getting murdered.
The thriller starred Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Bruno Ganz, and Riley Keough.
Written and directed by Lars von Trier, it followed a serial killer named Jack (played by Dillon) who committed a series of murders across Washington throughout the ’70s and ’80s.
Jack describes 14 murders as they’re shown as flashbacks on the screen – including one in which he bludgeons a woman with a tire jack, and another in which he cuts a man’s throat.
The movie contained gruesome scenes of Dillon mutilating his victims – including one particularly disturbing scene in which he sliced off a woman’s breast and keeps it in his wallet.
And in another part of the movie, he could be seen shooting two kids in the head with a rifle.
According to Variety, the audience was so disturbed that more than 100 people left when it was showcased at the festival that year – leaving the balcony of the theater half empty.
After it was showcased at the festival in 2018, one viewer called the movie ‘vile’ on social media, while another wrote that watching ‘children being shot’ was ‘not art or entertainment’
One viewer, who decided to leave midway, called the movie ‘vile’ on social media, while another wrote that watching ‘children being shot’ was ‘not art or entertainment.’
However, while discussing the backlash, Dillon, who was at the film festival, said he didn’t notice the walkouts, and still considered it a success.
‘I didn’t really notice the walkouts,’ he told IndieWire. ‘Everyone said that people were leaving in droves, but we got a really good reception when the movie was over, so there was a polarizing thing happening.’
The actor admitted he struggled during the filming process, since the subject is ‘really daunting and difficult,’ but in the end, he was glad he made it.
‘There was a period of time where I was like, “I can’t do this movie,”‘ he recalled. ‘This subject was really daunting and difficult.
‘It was troubling, in a way. And yet, there was a part of me that was really excited by the creative potential of the whole thing.
‘Von Trier is an uncompromising visionary, one of the true masters, and here we’d be exploring a part of human nature that we know so little about. I can’t think of many movies that have really gone into the inferno.’
When asked about the inspiration behind it, von Trier said he based the main character off himself.
He explained, ‘Most of the male characters in my films have been f**king idiots, but this guy is like me. Jack is the one closest to myself, except I don’t kill people.’
‘The worst film in the history of Cannes’: The Brown Bunny
The Brown Bunny – which starred Vincent Gallo and Chloë Sevigny (pictured) – was showcased the film festival in 2003, but viewers were uncomfortable when it ended with an explicit scene
In the final moments of the movie, Sevigny was seen performing un-stimulated oral sex on Gallo, and it reportedly resulted in ‘unrestrained hostility’ from the audience
The Brown Bunny was showcased the Cannes film festival in 2003, but it left audience members uncomfortable when it ended with an explicit scene.
The romance drama – which was written, directed, and produced by Vincent Gallo – starred Gallo, Chloë Sevigny, Cheryl Tiegs, Mary Morasky, Elizabeth Blake, and Anna Vareschi.
It was about a motorcycle racer who was driving across the country, but was continuously haunted by the memories of his former lover.
In the final moments of the movie, Sevigny was seen performing un-stimulated oral sex on Gallo, and it reportedly resulted in ‘unrestrained hostility’ from the audience.
At the time, film critic Roger Ebert called the movie the ‘worst film in the history of Cannes,’ according to the New York Times.
Aside from the explicit sex scene, some reviewers also slammed it for being uneventful.
‘It goes nowhere… slowly,’ one wrote on Rotten Tomatoes.
Another said, ‘You certainly don’t want to spend 90 minutes watching Vincent Gallo drive, shower, brood, and weep, which is almost all this movie is.’
The outlet reported that Gallo later apologized for the movie, stating, ‘I accept what the critics say.
‘If no one wants to see it, they are right – it is a disaster of a film and it was a waste of time.
‘I apologize to the financiers of the film but I assure you it was never my intention to make a pretentious film, a self-indulgent film, a useless film, an unengaging film.’
Tiegs also spoke out about the controversial final scene, and she admitted she when she re-watches the movie, she turns it off before it gets to that part.
‘I feel comfortable [performing oral sex], just not watching someone else do it,’ she told the Hollywood Reporter.
‘I wish [Gallo] hadn’t included that scene because it might have hurt the film, but I know he doesn’t care.’
‘A brutalizing experience for the spectator’: Taxi Driver
1976 movie Taxi Driver was not a hit at the Cannes film festival. The Martin Scorsese-directed drama reportedly resulted in boos and walkouts from the audience
The movie, which starred Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster, was about a Vietnam war vet (played by De Niro). De Niro and Foster are seen in the movie
Due to the excessive amount of gore and bloodshed, it wasn’t well received by the audience
1976 movie Taxi Driver was not a hit at the Cannes film festival. The Martin Scorsese-directed drama, which was written by Paul Schrader, reportedly resulted in boos and walkouts from the audience.
Viewers were reportedly also uncomfortable that Foster, who was only 12 at the time, played a child prostitute
The movie, which starred Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel, Peter Boyle, Leonard Harris, and Albert Brooks, was about a Vietnam war vet (played by De Niro) who suffered from PTSD.
He got a job as an overnight taxi driver in New York City and becomes enraged by all the crime and prostitution that he witnesses in the city.
He is especially shaken up when he meets a child prostitute, played by Foster, and he decides to shoot her pimp.
Due to the excessive amount of gore and bloodshed, it wasn’t well received by the audience. Viewers were reportedly also uncomfortable that Foster, who was only 12 at the time, played a sex worker at such a young age.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the flick ‘drew loud boos from the crowd, many of whom streamed out of the theater ashen-faced over the film’s ultraviolent climax.’
‘Half the audience was on its feet cheering. The other half was booing,’ producer Michael Phillips recalled.
Playwriter Tennessee Williams told reporters after the viewing, ‘Watching violence on the screen is a brutalizing experience for the spectator.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the flick ‘drew loud boos from the crowd, many of whom streamed out of the theater ashen-faced over the film’s ultraviolent climax’
‘Films should not take a voluptuous pleasure in lingering on terrible cruelties as though one were at a Roman circus.’
Despite the backlash, the movie was ultimately rewarded the Palme d’Or – the highest prize movies can receive at the festival.
It also received four nominations at the Academy Awards that year, including Best Picture, Best Actor (for De Niro), and Best Supporting Actress (for Foster), and has since been regarded as ‘one of the greatest films ever made.’
‘So violent and cruel that most people will find it unwatchable’: Irréversible
2002 crime drama Irréversible – which starred Monica Bellucci (left), Vincent Cassel (right), and Albert Dupontel – received backlash for it’s shocking depiction of a brutal rape
The film included a 10-minute scene showcasing the attack against two women. According to BBC, it was so violent it made more than 200 people get up and leave at the film festival
The outlet reported that it even resulted in some audience members needing medical attention due to them fainting or throwing up. Bellucci and Cassel are pictured in the flick
2002 crime drama Irréversible received backlash for it’s shocking depiction of a brutal rape.
The French psychological thriller was written and directed by Gaspar Noé, and it starred Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, and Albert Dupontel.
It followed two men in Paris who were attempting to avenge the sexual assaults’ and beatings’ of the women they loved.
The movie – which told the story in reverse order – included a graphic, 10-minute scene showcasing the violent attack against the women.
And when the two men found the attackers, they retaliated by beating one to death with a fire extinguisher in a bloody brawl.
According to BBC, the movie was so violent that it made more than 200 people get up and leave when it was showcased at the Cannes film festival, and resulted in some of them needing medical attention due to them fainting or throwing up.
‘Fire wardens had to administer oxygen to 20 people who fainted during the film,’ the outlet reported.
Fire brigade spokesman Lieutenant Gerard Courtel told them, ‘In 25 years in my job I’ve never seen this at the Cannes festival. The scenes in this film are unbearable, even for us professionals.’
Ebert later wrote on his website that the movie was ‘unwatchable.’
‘This is a movie so violent and cruel that most people will find it unwatchable,’ he said.
‘The camera looks on unflinchingly as a woman is raped and beaten for several long, unrelenting minutes, and as a man has his face pounded in with a fire extinguisher, in an attack that continues until after he is apparently dead.
‘That the movie has a serious purpose is to its credit but makes it no more bearable. Some of the critics at the screening walked out, but I stayed, sometimes closing my eyes.’
‘Extremely difficult to endure, and if you choose to endure it, it could leave you feeling angry and upset,’ Terry Lawson, from Detroit Free Press, wrote on Rotten Tomatoes.
Desson Thomson from the Washington Post added, ‘It fails because of its gratuitous rape and violence and also because of its pretentious and intellectually one-dimensional grounds, which make the violence at the end feel even worse.’
Amid the walkouts, Noé defended the movie, voicing his disappointment over people leaving early while speaking to IndieWire in 2009.
‘I think people walk out not because they are bored but because they can’t take it,’ he explained.
‘I suppose in my movie a lot of people suspect that the end of my movie is going to be worse than the beginning because that’s how the climax of the movie works. The fact is, if they stay they will get something that will erase these first images.’
‘It left me with my head down a lavatory’: Antichrist
Antichrist, which starred Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg (pictured), also reportedly caused audience members to faint after it debuted at the Cannes festival in 2009
It was about a couple, who after the tragic death of their son, went to live in a cabin together, where the wife started to experience increasingly violent sexual behavior
Antichrist, which starred Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg and was written and directed by von Trier, also reportedly caused audience members to faint after it debuted at the Cannes festival in 2009.
It was about a couple, who after their son tragically fell out of his bedroom window and died, decided to move to a cabin in the woods together, where the wife started to experience increasingly violent sexual behavior.
The movie featured one particular scene which showed Dafoe’s genitals getting mutilated, which resulted in him then orgasming. Another part showed them having sex surrounded by dead bodies.
According to Vulture, multiple viewers passed out during the screening of the movie, which also contained scenes of ‘castration’ – she cuts off her own clitoris during one scene – and ‘bloody masturbation.’
There’s also a part in the movie where she drills a hole through his leg, and bolts a heavy grindstone through the wound.
‘I had my head down a lavatory, frankly,’ said a former DailyMail.com reporter to the Morning Call after attending the Cannes film festival.
The movie featured one particular scene which showed Dafoe’s genitals getting mutilated, which resulted in him then orgasming
According to Vulture, multiple viewers passed out during the screening of the movie, which also contained scenes of ‘castration’ and ‘bloody masturbation’
Von Trier later said he made the movie – which CNN branded it a ‘calamitous atrocity’ – after suffering from a period of depression.
‘I don’t think I have to justify it,’ he said, when asked about the backlash it received. ‘I work for myself and I did this little film that I am now kind of fond of.
‘I haven’t done it for you or an audience, so I don’t think I owe anybody an explanation.
‘Maybe it will be a catastrophe. I have been treated bad by the press before. I like that
‘Also, it’s a good start for a discussion, that you immediately feel something about the project.’
‘Contemptible, male-gazing garbage’: Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo
When Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo – a French erotic drama directed by Abdellatif Kechiche – was displayed at the 2019 Cannes festival, hoards of people reportedly stormed out midway
According to Indie Wire, many audience members couldn’t finish the movie, after one scene showed actor Shaïn Boumédine perform un-simulated oral sex on his costar Ophélie Bau
When Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo – a French erotic drama directed by Abdellatif Kechiche – was displayed at the 2019 Cannes festival, hoards of people reportedly stormed out in the middle.
The film was a sequel to the 2017 film Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno, and it followed two lovers who were having an affair and discovered when the woman discovers she is pregnant.
She heads to Paris to have an abortion, but ends up spending the night at a club in Sète instead, where she has sex with her friend.
It starred Shaïn Boumédine, Ophélie Bau, Alexia Chardard, Roméo de Lacour, and Salim Kechiouche.
According to Indie Wire, many audience members couldn’t finish the movie, after one 14-minute scene showed Bau perform un-simulated oral sex on de Lacour.
Some people took to Twitter to share their outrage over the sex scene after the flick – which was a sequel to the 2017 film Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno – was shown at the festival
The Hollywood Reporter said the movie ‘consists of three-hours-plus of jiggling female butts,’ adding, ‘This is basically Twerking Female Fannies: The Movie.’
‘It is painfully retrograde and painful to watch,’ the outlet wrote in a review. ‘It feels shapeless and monotonous, with what little narrative there is perhaps enough for a 20-minute intermezzo but certainly not this terminally indulgent macho doodle posing as a movie.’
‘I just walked out of Mektoub My Love: Intermezzo. The most lascivious leery trash I’ve seen. Eurgh! Talk about objectification and voyeurism,’ wrote one audience member on Twitter afterwards.
Another tweeted: ‘I’ve witnessed the worst film in competition by miles, and its name is MEKTOUB.’
According to reports, Bau attended the premiere of the film but left before the screening because she was uncomfortable with the sex scene.
‘It contains some of the most perverted acts ever seen in mainline cinema’: Crash
Crash, a 1996 movie starring James Spader, told the story of a film producer who became involved with a group of symphorophiliacs – who were turned on by car crashes
Vice wrote that the drama is ‘basically just an hour and 40 minutes of the main characters doing it’
Newsweek reported that during its showing at the film festival, the controversial film was met with ‘numerous walkouts and a chorus of boos and whistles at the end’
After its release, the Evening Standard wrote the Crash had ‘some of the most perverted acts and theories of sexual deviance … ever seen propagated in mainline cinema’
Crash, a 1996 movie based on J.G. Ballard’s novel of the same name, was written and directed by David Cronenberg.
It starred James Spader, Deborah Kara Unger, Elias Koteas, Holly Hunter, and Rosanna Arquette.
It told the story of a film producer named James (played by Spader) who became involved with a group of symphorophiliacs – who were turned on by car crashes.
He met the group after getting into an accident of his own, colliding head-on with another car and killing its male passenger. While trapped in the wreckage, the driver and wife of the dead passenger exposes her breast to James.
He begins to fetish car crashes – obsessively watching car safety test videos and photographing traffic collisions.
Vice wrote that the drama is ‘basically just an hour and 40 minutes of the main characters doing it: They bang inside of cars, on top of cars, while they’re talking about cars, while they’re going through car washes – you get the picture.’
Newsweek reported that during its showing at the film festival, the controversial film was met with ‘numerous walkouts and a chorus of boos and whistles at the end.’
After its release, the Evening Standard wrote the Crash had ‘some of the most perverted acts and theories of sexual deviance … ever seen propagated in mainline cinema.’
‘What is Vaughan’s project? Nothing more, and nothing less, than the ultimate merging of sex and car crashes,’ added BBC in a review.
Ejaculating 3-D penis left viewers in uproar: Love
Love inspired numerous people to walk out when it debuted at the Cannes festival in 2015, especially after a 3-D penis ejaculated towards the audience
The movie, written and directed by Gaspar Noé, followed an American cinema school student living in Paris. It starred Karl Glusman (left), Aomi Muyock (center), and Klara Kristin (right)
Love inspired numerous people to walk out when it debuted at the Cannes festival in 2015, especially after a 3-D penis ejaculated towards the audience.
The movie, written and directed by Noé, followed an American cinema school student living in Paris. It starred Karl Glusman, Aomi Muyock, and Klara Kristin.
The student, named Murphy, cheated on his girlfriend, Electra, and got his mistress pregnant.
After Electra found out and went missing, he recounted their tumultuous relationship in a series of flashbacks – which included drug use, rough sex, and a lot of partying. In the end, Electra’s whereabouts are left unresolved.
According to the New York Times, it contained various scenes of ‘penetration and mutual masturbation,’ and when a large penis ejaculated in 3-D at the audience, it made many viewers get up and leave.
‘Noé uses 3-D photography but also never stops reminding viewers that they are outside of the frame, as he directly acknowledges in one scene where an erect penis thrusts directly at the camera before ejaculating CGI semen,’ Ebert wrote in a review on his website.
Reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes branded the film a ‘disappointment,’ as well as ‘numb,’ ‘anticlimactic,’ and ‘misguided.’
Prompted a ‘stampede of viewers’ to flee the theater: The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael
Variety reported that ‘a stampede of viewers’ left the theater in the middle of Thomas Clay’s The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael when it was shown at the festival in 2005
At one point in the movie, which starred Daniel Spencer, the characters gang raped a teenage girl. They were also seen attacking and raping a middle-aged woman later in the flick
Thomas Clay’s The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael was certainly controversial.
The 2005 movie, which starred Daniel Spencer, Lesley Manville, and Danny Dyer, was about a socially awkward teen, named Robert, who got involved with cocaine and ecstasy after befriending a troublesome group of boys.
At one point in the movie, Spencer’s character – along with his friends – gang raped a teenage girl. They were also seen attacking and raping a middle-aged woman later in the flick.
The friends tie up the woman and her husband, before they take turns raping her on screen in graphic detail. They also penetrated her with a piece of art, which hung on her wall, which results in her bleeding to death.
Variety reported at the time that ‘a stampede of viewers’ left the theater after witnessing the brutal rape scene, calling the movie ‘ultra violent and nauseating.’
‘Audiences will be deeply divided on whether pic’s graphic violence is justified by references to the horrors of war (it’s set during the recent Iraqi invasion) or just gratuitous, using faux-profundity for cynical, attention-seeking showmanship,’ the outlet wrote.
Clay later defended the movie, explaining that he wanted the audience to feel ‘shocked and disgusted.’
Graphic 10-minute sex scene left audience members outraged: Blue Is the Warmest Color
Blue Is the Warmest Color also reportedly resulted in a slew of walkouts. According to Vice, many audience members at the 2013 Cannes festival left after a 10-minute sex scene
Starring Léa Seydoux (right) and Adèle Exarchopoulos (left), the film followed a French teenager who fell for an aspiring painter
The two actresses later claimed they were put through ‘horrible’ conditions while working on the movie. Exarchopoulos is pictured in the film
Seydoux (left) said filming the sex scenes made her feel ‘like a prostitute,’ while Exarchopoulos (right) said, ‘Most people don’t even dare to ask the things that [director Kechiche] did’
Kechiche’s Blue Is the Warmest Color also reportedly resulted in a slew of walkouts.
According to Vice, many audience members at the 2013 Cannes festival left after a 10-minute sex scene made them uncomfortable.
Starring Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, the film followed an introverted French teenager who fell for an aspiring painter after they randomly walked passed each other on the street. It was based off of a graphic novel written by Jul Maroh of the same name.
The movie showcases their passionate relationship, documenting the pair as they fall in love and eventually break up, but due to its sexual nature, some people didn’t enjoy it.
‘[The sex scene] goes on so long that a male friend jokingly complained about glancing at his watch,’ the New York Times wrote in a review of the movie.
‘In this scene, as throughout, Mr. Kechiche and his hand-held camera keep close tabs on Adèle.
‘This intimacy is clearly meant to draw you into her consciousness. Yet, as the camera hovers over her open mouth and splayed body, even while she sleeps with her derrière prettily framed, the movie feels far more about Mr. Kechiche’s desires than anything else.
‘It’s disappointing that Mr. Kechiche seems so unaware or maybe just uninterested in the tough questions about the representation of the female body that feminists have engaged for decades.’
The two actresses later claimed that they were put through ‘horrible’ conditions while working on the movie.
‘Once we were on the shoot, I realized that he really wanted us to give him everything,’ Exarchopoulos told The Daily Beast. ‘Most people don’t even dare to ask the things that he did.’
Seydoux said filming the explicit sex scenes made her feel ‘like a prostitute.’