Gaspar Noé’s notorious film Irréversible (2002) was met with both acclaim and condemnation upon its premiere at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. Of the 2,400 people in the audience, over two hundred walked out, and over twenty are reported to have fainted or become physically ill.1 A Cannes official attending the premiere stated that “I’ve never seen this at the Cannes festival. The scenes in this film are unbearable, even for us professionals.”2 However, those who did remain until the end of the screening gave the film a five-minute standing ovation.3 After its premiere at Cannes, the film became a lightning rod for controversy due to the intense physical, emotional and psychological reactions experienced by spectators at various screenings.
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- Bearing Witness to the Unbearable: Ethics and the Phallic Gaze in Irréversible
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