Last Tango Director: People Upset at Rape Scene 'Naive'

Bernardo Bertolucci says actress knew about that part of script—just not part about butter
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2016 7:17 AM CST
Last Tango Director Calls Rape Controversy 'Ridiculous'
In this Oct. 15, 2016, file photo, director Bernardo Bertolucci poses for photographers at the Rome Film Festival in Rome.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)

The butter was the surprise, not the simulated rape. That's what director Bernardo Bertolucci is adding to the conversation on the recent dustup about one of his most famous movie scenes. Outrage ensued after an interview with him from 2013 emerged in which he said he and Marlon Brando decided the morning of shooting to use a stick of butter (as lubricant) on actress Maria Schneider during the rape scene in Last Tango in Paris, but Bertolucci says the scene itself wasn't a shock to Schneider, the AP reports. "Some people thought, and think, that Maria wasn't informed about the rape," he said Monday, per ANSA. "False! Maria knew everything because she had read it in the script, where it was described. The only novelty was the idea of the butter." Schneider, who died in 2011, was 19 when the scene was shot with 48-year-old Brando; she said in 2007 that she "felt a little raped" by both men.

The movie's cinematographer, Vittorio Storaro, weighs in, telling the Hollywood Reporter that Schneider loved being in the film and that the element of surprise was part of Bertolucci's moviemaking MO. "I was there with two cameras and nothing happened," he says. "Nobody was raping anybody. That was something made up by a journalist." He adds Bertolucci likely felt "a little guilty and nothing more than that" for not completely explaining the butter to Schneider before the scene was shot. Bertolucci also calls anyone who thought Schneider was actually raped "naive" and the controversy "ridiculous." "Those who don't know that in film, sex is [almost] always simulated, probably also think that every time John Wayne fires, someone actually dies," he said in the statement. He admitted in the 2013 interview that Schneider "hated me for all of her life," per the Express. More from Storaro. (More rape stories.)

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