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Pans & Tilts
Cannes Honours Clint Eastwood
By Gautaman Bhaskaran
South Asia Editor
Cannes honours Clint Eastwood

When the legendary American star, Clint Eastwood, received an honorary Palme d'Or or Golden Palm from the Cannes Film Festival in Paris a few days ago, it affirmed the long and splendid relationship he shared with the French Riviera's annual cinematic event, which this year begins on May 13.

Presenting the award, Festival President Gilles Jacob had words of touching endearment:" I am now, my dear Clint, going to present you with the Palme d'Or as a token of our admiration and a quarter century of shared complicity."

Eastwood's "Pale Rider" brought him to Cannes in 1985, and he returned to the Festival time and again with movies such as "Bird," "White Hunter," "Black Heart," "Mystic River" and "Changeling."

Jacob said that "what is more, we find it impossible to determine which of your films over all the others would most deserve the prize. How can we expect to choose between "Bird," "Mystic River," "Million Dollar Baby" or "Gran Torino?"

So it would seem just the right moment to dedicate the Palme to Clint Eastwood, the maker of all these masterpieces."

In what seemed even more a glowing tribute, Jacob added that "just like the great movie-makers the world over: Bresson, Ford, Ozu, Satyajit Ray or Rossellini, you very quickly understood that simplicity, the camera centered on the person, the exact length of a shot, the type of lens, the editing or the placing of music were crucial decisions. And, for each of them, there is only ever one choice – and not another. This is how one slowly takes one's place in the history of film."

Arguably a living legend, Eastwood, born in 1930, started his career in eminently forgettable movies before he found his trademark image in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" in 1966. It was a big hit – even in India where most of us remember it as a classic – that made him an international star, thereafter fetching him excellent roles in "Where Eagles Dare" (1968), "Coogan's Bluff" (1968) and "Paint Your Wagon" (1969). Ultimately films like "Play Misty for Me" (1971), "The Beguiled" (1971) and "Dirty Harry" (1971) gave him his signature look: rugged and raw.

His finest screen performance came in the 2004 "Million Dollar Baby," which won him an Oscar for Best Direction and another for Best Picture and a nomination for Acting.

Eastwood surprised yet again in 1992 with his Western, "Unforgiven" in which he garnered an Oscar for Direction, and nomination for Best Actor.

His latest acting stint was in last year's "Gran Torino," which grossed $30 million during its opening weekend in 2009, making him the oldest leading man to reach the number one at the box office.



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Gautaman Bhaskaran is a veteran film critic and writer who has covered Cannes and other major international festivals, like Venice, Berlin, Montreal, Melbourne, and Fukuoka over the past two decades. He has been to Cannes alone for 15 years. He has worked in two of India’s leading English newspapers, The Hindu and The Statesman, and is now completing an authorized biography of India’s auteur-director, Adoor Gopalakrishnan. Penguin International will publish the book, whose research was funded by Ford Foundation.

 

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