Unbelievable photos from the most glamorous celebrity event in the world that's 70 years old

The Cannes Film Festival, which kicked off its 2017 run on Wednesday, is an exclusive, invitation-only film festival that started in 1946.

The Cannes festival, which takes place every year on the French Riviera, has changed a lot over the years. It's primarily about the films, but over the past few decades, it's evolved into one of the biggest occasions for fashion, and celebrities have walked its red carpet in some iconic looks. But it wasn't always so fashion-focused.

Business Insider talked to Getty Images' Director of Digital Archives Bob Ahern about the progression of Cannes from film festival to one of the glamorous, star-filled occasion of the entire year, and Getty provided some images from the fest's history.

Getty Images photographers have been covering Cannes for over 20 years. Getty also has one of the world's largest collections of archival Cannes imagery, which dates back to the very first festival in 1946. Throughout this year's Cannes Film Festival, Getty will have a team of 80 people, which includes photographers and videographers, social-media experts, picture editors, assignment editors, and technicians.

Here are stunning photos of stars from the Cannes Film Festival over the years and how it's evolved:

Photos show how Cannes Film Festival has changed through the years
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Photos show how Cannes Film Festival has changed through the years

This image of Arnold Schwarzenegger at Cannes in 1977 is one of the best things your eyes will ever see.

(Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

“Cannes is a challenge — it’s changed so much over the years.”

Two bikini-clad holidaymakers enjoy a glass of wine outside the Carlton Hotel, Cannes.

(Photo by Serge DE SAZO/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

“You used to really see Cannes — the beach, the trees. There’s less of that today,” Ahern said. Nowadays, there’s more focus on the red carpet.

Ahern pointed out that this scandalous image of Simone Silver was a good example of stars becoming more candid in front of the public eye. 

(Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

“The '50s were an amazing time... an exciting time. How studios were operating, the whole construct of celebrity was controlled by studio, and it was becoming more candid.”

The French Star Brigitte Bardot Strolling On The Beach Of Cannes During The Cannes Film Festival, On April 1956.

(Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

In Cannes' early days, photographers had easier access to celebrities, which allowed these intimate moments to be captured by photographers.

American actor Kirk Douglas and French actress Brigitte Bardot (centre) at the beach during the Cannes Film Festival, April 1953.

(Photo by Patrick Morin/RDA/Getty Images)

Ahern told Business Insider that this candid of Diana Dors from the festival in 1956 could’ve never been captured today.

It's also his favorite photo in the collection. 

(Photo by John Chillingworth/Getty Images)

According to Ahern, photographers "simply don’t have this kind of up-close and personal access anymore." He credits that to the change in celebrity, and the presence of social media.

Here's a private moment with the legendary Sophia Loren.

(Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

The shift is “difficult to pinpoint,” according to Ahern, but he says the festival started to change in the late '80s and early '90s, as the studios started “losing control over the agenda of Cannes.”

Italian actress Claudia Cardinale and director Luchino Visconti (left) holding a cheetah on the beach at Cannes. Actor Burt Lancaster (right) smoking a cigarette.

(Photo by Lefebrve/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

“I don’t think anyone has outdone Madonna,” Ahern said. This 1991 photo of the singer, who was promoting the documentary "Madonna: Truth or Dare" about her, says it all.

Ahern also said that the Cannes dress code is “buttoned-up and very strict,” so for Madonna to come to Cannes in this outfit was a “breathtaking moment."

(Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

When searching for archived images, Ahern said that he’s drawn to photos "that say something about the celebrity — all the classic moments you can’t recreate.”

(Photo credit should read BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)

While you see less of Cannes as a backdrop today, there are still some little and glamorous moments to capture. "Cannes is a big deal for us," Ahern said. "Our coverage is second to none."

(Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images,,)


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SEE ALSO: The 22 movies you need to see coming out of the 2017 Cannes film festival

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