Guide Last Tango in Paris

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Bernardo Bertolucci: The visionary director who shocked the world

Graffiti in Florence referred to the director and lead stars "pigs. Nearly five decades later , photos of that, along with all the documents related to the criminal case against the scandalous oeuvre by the late Bertolucci — who was tried alongside actors Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider, as well as the producer Alberto Grimaldi and the film's distributor, Ubaldo Matteucci — are about to be rendered public in digitized version.

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At the request of the court that had custody of the case, the Bologna State Archive has completed the restoration of some 2, pages of documents bound in two files. The material will be viewable by the end of October. The moral climate of those years rings out in the denunciations that restorer Rita Capitani has saved from the deteriorating paper.

There were calls for signatures seeking to ban the film. A youth group drafted its own petition, slamming the film for its "striking 'porno-escalation' that goes against all artistic and cultural values. Screenings of Last Tango, which were barred to minors, had gone off without a hitch in Paris and New York. But Italy was a different story. The prosecutor of Bologna, Gino Paolo Latini, described it this way: "A film of obscene content that is offensive to modesty, intended to incite the lowest libidinal instincts, dominated by the idea of excitement and unbridled appetite for sexual pleasure, a film of scurrilous and vulgar language, with crude, repulsive, graphic representations of carnal congress, even the unnatural kind, and with continuous and gratuitous descriptions of masturbation, libidinous acts, and lewd nudity, all accompanied by groans, sighs and Italian middle class shrieks of enjoyment.

As archivist Francesca Delneri explains, the Bologna prosecutor opened investigations for obscenity and a prosecutor from Rome ordered the first seizure. But when the matter finally went to trial, she recalls, "it quickly ended in acquittal. While the language of the complaint reflects the repugnance of Italy's most prudish social classes, the initial judgment expresses the opposite sensibility.

The prosecutor didn't give up, however, and filed an appeal. And on June 4, , the trial court decision was overturned. And in January of , the epic legal battle took yet another dramatic turn: A higher appellate court confirmed the conviction, stripped Bertolucci of his civil rights for five years, and ordered destruction of the negatives. The famous director petitioned the then-president, Giovanni Leone, seeking a pardon.

Why was ‘Last Tango in Paris’ rape not a scandal before now?

It was only because of an order from the minister of justice that three copies of the film were spared. Those copies were conserved at the National Film Archive. And then, 11 years later, rehabilitation! The film's ban in Italy was lifted. In Italy, the film was the subject of a protracted obscenity trial. In , the Italian Supreme Court ordered all copies destroyed and handed Mr.

Bertolucci a four-month suspended sentence. Bernardo Bertolucci was born on March 16, , in Parma, Italy, into an affluent, artistically inclined family.


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His father, Attilio, was a renowned poet and occasional film critic; his mother, Ninetta, taught literature. As a teenager, after the family had moved to Rome, he started making short films with a borrowed millimeter camera.


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When he was 20, Mr. Bertolucci dropped out of the University of Rome when the opportunity arose to assist a neighbor and family friend, Pier Paolo Pasolini, on the set of Mr. Despite early success as a poet — a collection of his poetry won the prestigious Viareggio Prize in — Mr. Bertolucci chose to devote himself to film. Pasolini, had its premiere at the Venice Film Festival in If his first feature carried inevitable shades of Pasolini, Mr.

Last Tango in Paris | Film | The Guardian

For Mr. While the Italian reviews were mostly negative, the film was championed by French critics, who identified Mr. Bertolucci as a fellow traveler of the French New Wave.

The love was mutual. Even more than Mr.

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Pasolini, Jean-Luc Godard was an important early influence. Godard looms large over Mr. In what he described as a pivotal moment in his creative life, Mr. Bertolucci began Freudian analysis in Through formal devices — the same actors appear in both past and present-day sequences — the film creates a disorientingly fluid sense of time and underscores the persistence of history.

The protagonist Jean-Louis Trintignant is a closeted man who, in his desperate bid for normalcy, marries, joins the Fascist Party and agrees to assassinate a former professor.


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A lifelong leftist and a member of the Italian Communist Party in his 20s and 30s, Mr. Bertolucci began to question the viability of political filmmaking as his work grew more popular. Other reviewers were more skeptical. Bertolucci, the film was less about liberation than regression.