November 26, 2018

SEDUCTIVE? (degeneracy alert):

Bernardo Bertolucci was more pervert than genius: His films were boring, too (Dominic Green, November 26, 2018, Spectator USA)

There are three bums in Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris (1972), but only one of them is seen on screen. The bum you see belongs to a young actress, Maria Schneider. In the film, Schneider and Marlon Brando, who is having a midlife crisis, meet for anonymous sex in an apartment in Paris. The soundtrack, various jazz tangos by Brazilian saxophonist Gato Barbieri, is the best part of the film. But the most famous part, indeed the only reason anyone ever saw Last Tango in Paris, is the scene in which Brando sodomizes Schneider, using butter as a lubricant.

Schneider was 19 years old at the time, and almost unknown. Brando was 48. He was running to fat, so refused to disrobe. In 2013, Bertolucci admitted that he and Brando had planned and executed the butter scene as a sexual assault on film.

'The sequence of the butter is an idea that I had with Marlon in the morning before shooting," Bertolucci said at La Cinémathèque Française in Paris. He wanted, he said, to film Schneider's 'reaction as a girl, not as an actress' -- a 'reaction of frustration and rage'.

Her reaction, that is, to be sexually assaulted on film. Today, Peter Pulver, film editor of the Guardian, praises Bertolucci for his 'heady mixture of radical politics and eroticism' and lists Last Tango in Paris among his 'visually seductive masterworks'. Unfortunately, Maria Schneider is not available for comment. She died in 2011, after travails with depression, drug addiction, mental illness and suicide attempts, and after a second career advocating for women's rights in the film business.

Schneider was adamant that becoming famous in Last Tango's 'butter' scene ruined her life: 'For Tango, I was not prepared. People have identified with a character that was not me,' she said in 2001. 'I started using drugs when I became famous. I did not like the celebrity, and especially the image full of innuendo, naughty, that people had of me after Last Tango.'

Posted by at November 26, 2018 8:13 PM