This weekend, a 2013 interview conducted with Last Tango in Paris director Bernardo Bertolucci resurfaced and was met with international outrage and disgust: In it, he admitted to planning a nonconsensual sexual attack on the film's 19-year-old star, Maria Schneider. Now, in the face of controversy, the Italian director has issued a statement claiming this uproar is based on a "ridiculous misunderstanding."
In case you missed it, the confession pertained to a particular scene in which Marlon Brando penetrated Ms Schneider using a stick of butter. She had not given her consent for the scene, it was not in the script: He and Brando had developed the idea that morning and purposefully not told her so as to capture an authentic reaction on camera. He also said he did not regret the decision. Three years later (since the interview) and one serious media uproar, he is back-peddling on that statement.
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His statement reads as follows:
“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. Several years ago at the Cinemathèque Francaise 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."
“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. And that, as I learned many years later, offended Maria. Not the violence that she is subjected to in the scene, which was written in the screenplay."
Whether or not #Bertolucci is telling the truth we will never know: Both #MariaSchneider and Brando have passed on. However, what we do know is that Schneider "felt raped," she did not give her consent to have butter shoved up her asshole, she was treated as an object — as she told the Daily Mail in 2007 — and nobody listened to her. And, as far as I'm concerned (and funnily enough, as far as the World Heath Organization is concerned, too) any move that is directed "against a person’s sexuality using coercion," is assault — and not a "ridiculous misunderstanding."
Anything to add? Sound off in the comments!