Quentin Tarantino’s new film got a 7-minute applause at Cannes. That’s actually not that good

“How long are we supposed to smile for?”
“How long are we supposed to smile for?”
Image: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP
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By normal human standards, a seven-minute standing ovation for anything—a film, a concert, a speech—is insanely long. But by Cannes Film Festival standards, it’s not very long at all.

Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, debuted to a warm reception yesterday at the prestigious festival on the French Riviera. Those in attendance report that the film received a rapturous seven minutes of applause after it ended. Here is a video of stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie awkwardly standing around, unsure of what to do with their hands or bodies or faces, for three of those seven minutes.

If Pitt looks like he’d rather be anywhere else, it’s not because he’s ungrateful. It’s because the Cannes tradition of overlong standing ovations is as uncomfortable as it is bizarre. And it gets a lot worse than seven minutes.

Quartz sifted through news reports to identify some of the longest standing ovations in Cannes history. The table below does not represent a comprehensive list; it is a mere sampling of some of the films whose applause lengths were documented at the time.

Cannes has cultivated its status as the world’s most reputable film festival by doing everything just a little bit extra. Tuxedos are the wardrobe of choice, despite temperatures that sometimes reach into the 80s (Fahrenheit). Press conferences can be combative. And post-premiere applause is, to put it lightly, abundant.

But length does not always equate to vigor. The Elton John biopic Rocketman, for instance, received a paltry four-minute ovation at this year’s festival—though those four minutes were “electric,” the Hollywood Reporter observed. The seven-minute ovation for Tarantino’s film did not evoke such descriptive adjectives, but Deadline did note that it “elicited hoots.”

Guillermo Del Toro’s 2006 fantasy-drama film Pan’s Labyrinth is routinely cited as the top applause-getter in the festival’s storied history: a truly incomprehensible 22 minutes. Documentarian Michael Moore is another Cannes favorite, with two films well above the exceptional 10-minute line.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, meanwhile, wasn’t even Tarantino’s best ovation-receiver. His World War II drama, Inglourious Basterds, won a healthy 11-minute standing ovation in 2009.


Pan’s Labyrinth | Fahrenheit 9/11 | Mud | The Neon Demon | Capernaum | The Paperboy | Bowling for Columbine | The Artist | Inglourious Basterds | BlacKkKlansman | Captain Fantastic | The Beaver | Carol | All Is Lost | Biutiful | Mommy | Suspiria | Foxcatcher | Cold War | Once Upon a Time in Hollywood | Clouds of Sils Maria | You Were Never Really Here | Good Time | Twin Peaks | Burning | The Beguiled | Inside Llewyn Davis | Moonrise Kingdom