Why Bertolucci's 'Last Tango' rape scene was traumatising to heroine


Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci, who won multiple Oscars for 'The Last Empero'r and whose erotic drama 'Last Tango in Paris' enthralled and shocked the world, died on Monday. He was 77.

Bertolucci’s movies often explored the sexual relations among characters stuck in a psychological crisis, as in 'Last Tango'. The film, starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider was about a middle-aged widower and a younger woman who engage in a brutal sexual relationship in a bare Paris apartment. The scene was widely criticised and really shocked the world.

The lead actress Maria, later revealed that she was traumatised by the movie.

The actress was just 19 during filming and told 'The Daily Mail' in 2007 that a rape scene was included and shot without informing her before hand. “I was so angry,” she said. “I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci. 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.

Maria Schneider was just 19 during filming the movie

“After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or apologise. Thankfully, there was just one take,” she said.

After the actress died in 2011, in 2013, a video emerged that showed the director admitting that the rape scene for the movie was done without Maria’s knowledge.

Later, following a widespread public condemnation, the 76-year-old Oscar-winner released a statement about shooting the controversial rape scene.

“I want for the very last time to clear up a ridiculous misunderstanding. We wanted her spontaneous reaction in the scene. The misunderstanding arises from this. People thought, and think, that Maria was not informed at all. False!

'I wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress', he said.

Maria knew that such a scene was there but she wasn't informed about the violence that the scene demanded. I wanted Maria to feel, not to act. I wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress. Maybe, sometimes in the movie, I didn’t tell her what was going on because I knew her acting would be better,” he said.

A still from the movie

Bertolucci argued that it was necessary to hurt Maria in order to make his film. “I feel guily but I do not regret. To make movies sometime, you have to obtain something and we have to be completely free”, he said. Undoubtedly, only a true filmmaker like Bertolucci would go to any extent to make his movies get the best result.

Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider and Bernardo Bertolucci on the sets

Meanwhile, Bertolucci was married to the English writer and director Clare Peploe. They had no children.

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