Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci, who died on Monday at the age of 77, acquired notoriety for his 1972 erotic drama ‘Last Tango In Paris’ starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider, which featured a controversial sex scene.
Bertolucci has acknowledged Schneider was not aware that Brando’s character would use butter as a lubricant during the scene.
“The only new thing was the idea of the butter. It was this, I learned many years later, that upset Maria, and not the violence that was in the scene and was envisaged in the script of the film.
“It is both consoling and distressing that anyone could be so naive to believe that what happens on the cinema screen actually takes place,” he said of viewers.
Schneider, who suffered drug addiction and depression before her 2011 death, said four years earlier she had felt “a little raped” during the scene and was profoundly angry about it for years afterwards.
The actress was just 19 during filming and told the ‘Daily Mail’ in 2007 that a rape scene involving a stick of butter was included without warning.
“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,” she said.
“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,” she said.
When asked in 2013 how he would like to be remembered, Bertolucci said: “I don’t care.”
“I think my movies are there, people can see them,” he said at a presentation of a 3D version of ‘The Last Emperor’ to mark the 25th anniversary of its international release.
“And sometimes I laugh, thinking I will be remembered more as a talent scout of young girls than as a film director,” he said.