Despite giant waves battering the beaches last week, volcanic dust clouds this week and the non-appearance of Ridley Scott, director of opening night film Robin Hood (he is recovering from knee surgery), the 63rd Cannes film festival last night officially got underway.

Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood has received mixed reviews with its rebooting of the outlaw’s tale but he and co-star Cate Blanchett brought some real A-list presence to the red carpet opening night. Blanchett, every inch the star, did the required job of smiling, waving and generally charming the crowds and media on her walk up the steps.

Crowe on the other hand looked like a man who’d rather be anywhere else. Surrounded on all sides by his greatest enemy (no not the sheriff of Nottingham) but loud, baying, drooling, photographers, Crowe looked like he wished he had his trusty bow and arrows with him. Unsmiling, he kept his sunglasses in place all the way through the snapping pack of paps, only removing them and giving a smile when he’d got through the ordeal and was on his way up the stairs to festival president Gilles Jacob and director Thierry Fremaux. He gave the public audience a two fingered peace sign from the top of the stairs and looked like he was finally relaxing a little.

The festival opening ceremony, hosted in fluent French by Kristin Scott Thomas (probably the only English actress the French would like to claim for their own) was relatively short and sweet - but with Robin Hood’s 140-minute running time, it still meant that many of the audience had been in the Palais for almost four hours by the time the film ended. Little wonder that when the movie finished and the audience applauded, Crowe gestured to them by tapping his watch – and indicating that it was time to get the hell out of there.

The audience reception of the film was warm, and although it sags a little at times under the weight of its own convoluted narrative,  Robin Hood has enough action and spectacle to keep Crowe-fans happy.

Fittingly for a film that tries to find the gritty realism of Robin Hood’s story, very English-like rain drenched the opening night audience as they attempted to exit the Palais. A true test of chivalry was how many of the men gave up their dinner jackets to keep their partner’s glamorous dresses and perfectly styled hair covered up from the rain. Not many did.

The Robin Hood party was the hottest ticket in town, with two events taking place – one in the Majestic bars and newly refitted restaurant, and the other on the Majestic beach. This year’s jury chair Tim Burton was in the hotel, telling everyone how much he was enjoying the honour of chairing the jury – and what a nice bunch of judges he had. Blanchett breezed in and out and later across at the beach party Russell Crowe sat among guests but flanked by burly minders who didn’t look much like Robin’s merry men.

But Cannes is now underway; the stars, the deals, the parties, and most important of course, the films.