×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Bernardo Bertolucci Responds to ‘Last Tango in Paris’ Backlash Over Rape Scene

ROME — Reacting to outrage over reports he and Marlon Brando conspired against actress Maria Schneider while filming a notorious rape scene in “Last Tango in Paris,” Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci said Monday that the outcry was based on a “ridiculous misunderstanding” of what actually happened.

In Monday’s statement, issued in Italian, Bertolucci said: “I would like, for the last time, to clear up a ridiculous misunderstanding that continues to generate press reports about ‘Last Tango in Paris’ around the world.”

“Several years ago at the Cinemathèque Francaise someone asked me for details on the famous “butter scene.

“I specified, but perhaps I was not clear, that I decided with Marlon Brando not to inform Maria that we would have used butter,” he noted. “We wanted her spontaneous reaction to that improper use [of the butter]. That is where the misunderstanding lies.

“Somebody thought, and thinks, that Maria had not been informed about the violence on her. That is false!”

Bertolucci added that “Maria knew everything because she had read the script, where it was all described. The only novelty was the idea of the butter.

“And that, as I learned many years later, offended Maria. Not the violence that she is subjected to in the scene, which was written in the screenplay,” Bertolucci added.

Reports over the weekend centered on a resurfaced video of a 2013 masterclass given by Bertolucci in Paris. In the video, the Oscar-winning auteur talks about the scene in his 1972 film in which Brando’s character uses a stick of butter as a lubricant to simulate sex with Schneider, who was 19 at the time. “I had been, in a way, horrible to Maria because I didn’t tell her what was going on,” Bertolucci says on the tape.

Several celebrities reacted angrily to Bertolucci’s comments, including actress Jessica Chastain, who called the scene a planned sexual attack on a 19-year-old young woman. “I feel sick,” Chastain tweeted. Others called for Bertolucci to be stripped of his awards.

Schneider died in 2011, at age 58, reportedly of cancer.

Before her death, she had spoken out about the scene, including in an interview with the Daily Mail in which she said, “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 apologize. Thankfully, there was just one take.”

In an interview with Italian news agency ANSA when Schneider died, Bertolucci said: “Her death came too soon, before I could tenderly hug her again, tell her that I felt close to her like the first day, and at least once, say I was sorry.”

“The strong creative rapport we had during the ‘Last Tango’ shoot had been poisoned with the passing of time,” he added to ANSA.

“Maria accused me of having robbed her of her youth and only today I wonder whether there wasn’t some truth to that.

“In truth she was too young to sustain the impact with the unpredictable and brutal success of that film.”

More Film

  • Robert Iger and Rupert Murdochcredit: Disney

    Wall Street Applauds as Disney Nears Finish Line on Fox Acquisition

    Wall Street is rooting for Disney as the media giant reaches the finish line this week in its 15-month quest to acquire most of Rupert Murdoch’s film and TV empire. Fox shareholders, on the other hand, are being a little more cautious. Disney is poised to close the $71.3 billion deal that took many twists [...]

  • Personal Tales From Hong Kong, China

    Personal Tales From Hong Kong and China Among the Asia Film Financing Forum Projects

    A brace of personal tales from China and Hong Kong are among the 23 projects vying for attention at the 17th Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum. Liu Miaomiao is a rare female ethnic Hui Muslim filmmaker. She came to international prominence with 1993’s “Chatterbox” that won the President of the Italian Senate’s Gold Medal [...]

  • Josie Ho Makes 2019 the Year

    Josie Ho Makes 2019 the Year She Takes Risks in Her Film Choices

    Josie Ho vows to master the art of calculated risk in the year 2019. As an actress and film producer, she is conscious of the choices of projects she makes: appearing in the new film by Japanese hotshot director Shinichiro Ueda, producing a new documentary feature while developing some 10 titles in the pipeline of [...]

  • FilMart: Big Data, Content Key to

    FilMart: Big Data, Content Key to iQIYI's Online Ambitions

    Tech and data play a huge role for iQIYI, China’s second-largest streaming platform, as a way to innovate and step out ahead of its competitors, iQIYI founder and CEO Yu Gong explained in a keynote speech Monday at FilMart. “We don’t see a lot of innovation-driven entertainment companies yet. We want to be the one,” [...]

  • Ted Sarandos and Thierry Fremaux'Okja' photocall,

    Despite Ongoing Peace Talks, Netflix Won't Have Any Movies at Cannes 2019 (EXCLUSIVE)

    Although Netflix and the Cannes Film Festival continue quietly to negotiate a potential settlement to their differences, the streaming giant will be absent from the Croisette again this year with no film in or out of competition, Variety has learned. The ongoing talks between the two sides have been friendly, including a dinner in Los [...]

  • Series Mania Showcases Shlomi Elkabetz-Produced Series

    Series Mania to Showcase Shlomi Elkabetz-Produced Series 'The Dreamers'

    “The Dreamers,” one of the series to be presented at Series Mania’s Co-Pro Pitching Sessions, is a 10-part crime comedy produced by prominent Israeli filmmaker Shlomi Elkabetz (“Gett”) and Galit Cachlon at Deux Beaux Garcons Films. Produced for Israeli cable TV operator HOT, the series will be directed by Maysaloun Hamoud, a young Hungarian-born Palestinian [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content