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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2006, 20:11 GMT 21:11 UK
Da Vinci premiere short on glamour
By Darren Waters
BBC News entertainment reporter in Cannes

(l-r)Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Brian Grazer (producer) and Ron Howard
The Da Vinci stars appeared fleetingly on the red carpet
Cannes has a love affair with glamour stretching back decades.

One can see it in the fashion of the overdressed women who parade up and down the narrow streets and in the hulls of the millionaire yachts bobbing in the marina.

So it was no surprise to see a flock of people crowding the Croisette on the opening night of the festival for the world premiere of The Da Vinci Code.

Those lucky enough to have tickets to the premiere strolled past slowly in their finery.

Even the cameramen were forced to wear tuxedos and the policemen were in their dress uniforms, gloves and braids a dazzling white.

US film students at the Da Vinci Code premiere in Cannes
US film students made a last minute bid for screening tickets

A group of hopeful teenagers had put on their evening wear - cocktail dresses and tuxedos - and worked the crowd, carrying signs in French asking for tickets to the screening.

They were not locals, but a group of American film students on a course in Cannes during the festival.

"If you come across any tickets, let us know," said one.

Judging by press reaction to the film, it was a mercy that they avoided the screening.

But premieres are not about films, they are about the stars.

And Cannes certainly put on a show for the visiting stars, here to promote a film based on a huge best-seller.

Local police at the Cannes Film Festival
Polished policemen line the Croisette in Cannes

The Cannes jury arrived before the stars of the Ron Howard movie - crossing the red carpet in a line to signify their unity.

Jury president Wong Kar Wai has promised a united panel and on day one, certainly, they looked a unit.

Of course the French involvement in The Da Vinci film helped fuel excitement - Jean Reno and Audrey Tautou are stars in their own right in their native France.

A live announcer called out the name of each star as they arrived, like a stadium announcer reading out the name of each player at a football match.

The crowd reaction was more pleased than passionate - perhaps the French are more reserved at such outings.

Audrey Tautou
Tautou, the star of the hit 2001 film Amelie, is a big draw in France

The centre of attention was certainly Tom Hanks, who arrived with his wife Rita Wilson.

Although the double Oscar winner did not work the crowd in the style made famous by fellow Hollywood star Tom Cruise, he gave a confident wave to the onlookers.

A premiere in Cannes is not like other premieres - stars are kept determinedly separate from the fans who pay their wages at the box office.

They arrive, wave at the crowd, pose for pictures, pose some more and then sweep up the carpet.

Tautou, a diminutive, almost chronically shy star, seemed almost swallowed up by the attention.

Sir Ian McKellen, in Cannes
British star Sir Ian McKellen plays theological historian Leigh Teabing

Sir Ian McKellen seemed most at ease, but then he has experienced many similar occasions thanks to his Lord of the Rings fame.

After shaking hands with waiting Cannes officials, the stars lined up on the top step of the Palais.

A few more waves, some smiles and they were gone.The meat and drink of the premiere was over in less than 10 minutes.

Perhaps the Tom Cruise method of premieres is better after all.

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