Last Tango in Paris director is dead

Last Tango in Paris director is dead


norman lebrecht

November 26, 2018

The Italian Bernardo Bertolucci has died of cancer at 77.

He was wheelchair bound for the past decade.

His best known film is not particularly remembered for the title dance.

The composer was Gato Barbieri.


  • Emil says:

    And, of course, he had Maria Schneider actually raped on camera in that movie. That must be part of any obituary or review of his work: a director who found it acceptable to rape actresses on film.

    • anon says:

      “actually raped on camera”

      Actually, no.

      The scene simulated rape with no actual sex.

      They acted a rape, actually.

      Don’t trivialize actual rape.

      • Emil says:

        Ok, let’s call it “non-consensual sexual activity” then (as Mr Osborne quotes below, even Bertolucci stated that Schneider did not consent).
        Out of curiosity, how do you define rape? Let me help you: “However, it is important to highlight that the concept of sexual violence is not limited to penile penetration. In fact, the World Health Organisation defines it as “any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion”.”

        So if you want to split words, Bertolucci masterminded, planned, and directed the sexual assault of a 19-year old girl (which, in 1972, was under the age of majority in France). Oh, and by the way, Schneider has stated she felt raped.

        Happy now?

        • anon says:

          You are confusing two distinct concepts: “rape” and “sexual violence”.

          The definition you yourself quote above clearly states that it is for the latter, not the former.

          While every “rape” constitutes “sexual violence”, not every “sexual violence” constitutes “rape.”

          Is the logic too subtle for you? Every modern legal statute makes that distinction.

          Schneider, again to quote you, “felt” raped, she did not say she “was” raped.

          She understood the difference between feeling being raped and actually being raped.

          You may think you are being politically correct, what you’re doing is a disservice to actual rape survivors, actually.

          • Emil says:

            Even if it were correct, that distinction is irrelevant.
            And as it occurs, it is not universally correct, as a look at the Merriam Webster or the Wikipedia definitions will make clear. But again, you’re splitting hairs.

  • Emil says:

    Also, Mr Lebrecht, I’ll note to you that the picture you chose to illustrate this article depicts an actual rape – as confirmed both by Schneider and Bertolucci. Perhaps not the most sensitive choice?

    • nyc musician says:

      Absolutely false. She was not ‘actually raped’. Please post a link where any of the 3 people involved in the scene (director, actor, actress) have confirmed it was an actual rape, as you so readily jumped to say.
      I know a lot about this movie and that scene. I wonder what you’re talking about. A rape of her innocence? Sure. Surprised and pushed into doing something that wasn’t in the script? Sure. Abusing their fame and power to push a 19 year old first-time actress into doing something so shocking for people back then, that it is still a scene people talk about and it affected her mentally and she hated doing it and she cried about it? Sure.

      Actually raped? No.

      Also, Norman used the photo of said scene because he wrote ‘not particularly remembered for the title dance’. Anyone who’s seen the movie remembers that scene.

  • Yesterday, November 25, was International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

    “In the clip from a 2013 press tour, Bertolucci describes how he and Brando had come up with the idea to use the butter in the scripted rape scene, but did not tell Schneider ‘what was going on, because I wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress. I wanted her to react humiliated.'”

    The most common motivation for rape is the desire to use power to humiliate and degrade. Bertolucci and Brando didn’t do the scene so much for art, as for their own satisfaction.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      “the desire to use power to humiliate and degrade”? You’ve been sucking on the cool aid. It’s the desire to HAVE SEX.

  • M2N2K says:

    Depiction of something on screen does not necessarily imply any kind of approval or endorsement of it: by the way, Brando character does not end well in “Last Tango”. There are thousands more killings in movies than rapes and the best of those are often among most highly praised – let alone very popular – motion pictures. In “Fargo”, there are several brutal murders and I don’t recall much criticism of that masterpiece by Coen brothers. Much more recently, Isabelle Huppert received an Oscar nomination and many prestigious international awards for a leading role in “Elle” where her character was raped – arguably, even more explicitly than in Bertolucci’s movie – and, unsurprisingly, the great French actress was extremely pleased about such recognition of her outstanding performance.

  • Reality Bites says:

    She could have objected & resisted – there were plenty of witnesses in the room!

    • Emil says:

      Ah yes, let’s blame the victim, that’s always a good idea.
      A couple points to consider:
      – She was 19.
      – The director and lead actor conspired to trick her.
      – It was her first major film, playing opposite an established actor (30 years her senior) and director.

      Here’s what she had to say about it (taken from Schneider’s Wikipedia page):
      “”[Bertolucci] was fat and sweaty and very manipulative, both of Marlon and myself, and would do certain things to get a reaction from me.” She said that Brando had a paternal relationship with her on the set, even though he suggested the acted sodomy scene.[9] Bertolucci did not reveal this scene to her until just before the filming of it. In 2007, she said:
      I should have called my agent or had my lawyer come to the set because you can’t force someone to do something that isn’t in the script, but at the time, I didn’t know that. Marlon said to me: ‘Maria, don’t worry, it’s just a movie,’ but during the scene, even though what Marlon was doing wasn’t real, I was crying real tears. I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or apologise. Thankfully, there was just one take.””

      Do you still want to blame the victim of emotional manipulation and rape?

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        19 aye? That was 7 years old than Jody Foster. The deafening silence about that abuse has been opportunistic and beyond staggering.

  • Nick2 says:

    How sad that this is the film by which he is remembered in this forum. The Last Emperor is a vastly better movie.

  • Doug says:

    Dear Lefties: this film was your shining banner in promoting the sexual degeneracy in which you were so in love at the time. Without it, you would not be in the present state of Utopian “equity.” Another way of looking at it might be to consider the scene merely a Muslim/Cosmopolitan-Atheist “cultural misunderstanding.”

    • jaypee says:

      Dog, why don’t you enlighten us with your hero’s sexual exploits?
      You know, the guy who cheated on his first wife, his second wife, his third wife… the porn actress… the hookers… Not to mention this:

      Get a life and go troll on fox “news” since you obviously have no interest in music.

      Mr. Lebrecht, any reason why this “dog” can post his moronic drivel that has nothing to do with music here?

      • Bruce says:

        The trolls keep coming back because we keep feeding them.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        The arbiters of what is good and right are out early with the truncheons, finger-wagging and self-righteousness early today!! It’s what we’ve come to expect. Doug is quite correct about the licentious 1970s and its out-of-control drug ‘culture’. There were always going to be consequences. “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”.

  • Even in the 70s it would have been considered extremely unprofessional to film a rape scene without each actor knowing in advance and in detail what was going to transpire. To rub butter on one of the most intimate parts of an actress’s body without telling her in advance is beyond the pale. She clearly did not consent because she was not even told this would happen.

    This reaches dangerously close to criminal behavior. Due to the confusion surrounding consent in this scene, if Brando’s fingers had penetrated between her buttocks in even the slightest manner, there would have been grounds for rape charges.

    Fortunately, the industry is changing. HBO now uses a trained intimacy coordinator for all sex scenes. This is a huge step forward for professional standards and helps insure that safety and human dignity are respected.

  • I was too young to see LTAP when it was new. When I finally saw it on video decades later I was baffled that such a tedious and boring film could have been such an object of interest and discussion.

    I can only imagine that people must have been starved for titillation back then.

  • Brettermeier says:

    Not sure, why my comment was not published, as it pretty much stated the facts:

    Is he dead? Yes.
    Was he a creep? Obviously.
    Are there more creeps out there? Yes.

    My apologies for not feigning sympathies for creeps.

  • George Berry says:

    Mr. Lebrecht, your decision to post that particular photo from Last Tango is totally insensitive and revolting. I am permanently discontinuing my reading of slipped disc.It is an insult to the memory of Ms. Schneider.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    An over-rated film – totally. But one of the most beautiful images of the entire 20th century was Marlon Brando.

  • Alan says:

    I’m surprised all you self appointed experts didn’t comment about his wonderful film La Luna! Starring Jill Clayburgh as an opera singer with a complicated family life during one scene she gives her troubled teenage son a hand job.
    Touching? Troubling?
    Provocative-of course! That was Bertolucci!
    Oh, and they were acting.