Bernardo Bertolucci Releases Statement About ‘Last Tango in Paris’ Rape Scene Controversy
Filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci has clarified controversial remarks he made about a rape scene in his film Last Tango in Paris, insisting late actress Maria Schneider was aware she would be taking part in the violent scene with Marlon Brando.
The director hit headlines over the weekend, when, in newly surfaced video footage of a 2013 interview he gave during a Q&A at La Cinematheque Francaise in Paris, Bertolucci admits he and Brando conspired together to surprise the rape scene on Schneider, who was only 19 at the time. Bernardo confessed during the talk he and the late actor set up elements of the scene without telling her what they were planning to do – including using a stick of butter as a lubricant.
The recently unearthed admission has caused outrage in Hollywood and some actors have called for the 76-year-old to be prosecuted.
However, he has released a statement insisting the controversy is a “ridiculous misunderstanding.”
“I would like, for the last time, to clear up a ridiculous misunderstanding that continues to generate press reports about Last Tango in Paris around the world,” the statement reads. “Several years ago at the Cinemateque Francais someone asked me for details on the famous butter scene. 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 use (of the butter). That is where the misunderstanding lies,” it continues. “Somebody thought, and thinks, that Maria had not been informed about the violence on her. That is false! Maria knew everything because she had read the script, where it was all described. The only novelty was the idea of the butter.”
In a 2007 interview with UK newspaper The Daily Mail, Schneider, who is now deceased after passing away from cancer in 2011, revealed she “felt a little raped” when her co-star forced himself on her in a controversial scene. She also claimed the scene in the 1972 film, which sees Brando’s middle-aged character Paul sexually assault Maria’s youthful persona Jeanne, wasn’t in the script.
“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 recalled. “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 apologize. Thankfully, there was just one take.”