US film maker and producer Steven Spielberg declared the Festival open at the ceremony hosted by French actress Audrey Tautou.
The Great Gatsby by Baz Lurhmann lit up the screen at the Gala opening.
With 3-D, high-tech cinema, bright colours and the brightest stars added with special swooping camera shots, it was close to the cinematographic world of Harry Potter. Glitzy costumes and lush decors loomed out of the picture accompanied by hip-hop and other music of the late, rather than early 20th century, reorchestrated to give it a 1920s feel.
Based on F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel of the same name, Lurhmann’s film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a man who strives to become wealthy and powerful, and who then, to make his dream-life meaningful, tries to reconquer the woman he loves. Gatsby may have resorted to devious means, but he remains faithful to an ideal. His quest, however, ends tragically.
Unusually the Festival chose a film that has already premiered - in New York on 10 May. Less unusually, it’s a US production. It’s also the Hollywood debut for veteran Indian cinema star Amitabh Bachchan, who has a cameo role as the unscrupulous Meyer Wolfsheim. Bachchan is the guest of honour at this year's festival which pays tribute to Indian cinema.
On Thursday, the parallel Festivals of the Directors’ Fortnight opens with Israeli director Ari Folman’s The Congress, along with The Critics Week, featuring Katell Quiillévéré’s Suzanne. These festivals mostly put the spotlight on first and second-time film makers.
The Un Certain Regard section of the main Festival features movies selected with an un-mainstream view of the world. It opens with The Bling Ring by Sofia Coppola - very Hollywood. The film is based on a true story reported in Vanity Fair magazine about a group of young people in Los Angeles who track celebrities to find out when they are not at home, and then burgle them.