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Last Tango in Paris director Bernardo Bertolucci dead at 77

Bernardo Bertolucci, the Oscar-winning director of THE LAST EMPEROR and LAST TANGO IN PARIS died today in Rome, Italy after a battle with cancer, his publicist confirmed. He was 77.

A powerful figure in cinema for decades, Bertolucci got his start in his native country of Italy in the 60s with smaller films like LA COMMARE SECCA and PARTNER, as well as working on the screenplay for the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti Western, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. He attained more notoriety and attention after writing and directing the movie THE CONFORMIST (IL CONFORMISTA), which earned him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Two years later he directed his most controversial and perhaps most well-known movie – LAST TANGO IN PARIS – starring Marlon Brando as a retired businessman who starts a love affair with a younger woman, played by Maria Schneider. The movie was hailed in the art scene at the time but panned by some critics who denounced the graphic sexuality. Though the movie is seen now as a classic of the era, controversy was brought to light in 2016 after Schneider revealed the infamous scene involving the use of butter was not done with her consent, saying the event left her feeling “humiliated.” Bertolucci responded to the matter, saying, “I specified, but perhaps I was not clear, that I decided with Marlon Brando not to inform Maria that we would have used butter. We wanted her spontaneous reaction to that improper [butter] use. That is where the misunderstanding lies.” (via THR)

Over a decade after PARIS, Bertolucci released his most acclaimed film and the one that earned the most praise and attention – THE LAST EMPEROR – the dramatic epic about China’s final emperor, Aisin-Gioro Puyi. The movie won every Oscar it was nominated for, including Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture, totaling nine awards. Over the three decades since he didn’t direct anything that earned as much attention, but his films still received critical praise, including BESEIGED, STEALING BEAUTY and THE DREAMERS. His last movie was ME AND YOU, which premiered in 2012.

Source: THR

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