Filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci, who won Oscars with The Last Emperor and whose erotic drama Last Tango in Paris enthralled and shocked the world, has died. He was 77. Bertolucci's press office, Punto e Virgola, confirmed the death to the AP. Italy's state-run RAI said Bertolucci died at his home in Rome, surrounded by family. Bertolucci's movies often explored the sexual relations among characters stuck in a psychological crisis, as in Last Tango. The self-professed Marxist also did not shy away from politics and ideology, as in The Conformist, which some critics consider Bertolucci's masterpiece. Despite working with A-list American and international stars, Bertolucci always defended his own filmmaking style against what he said was the pressure of the US film industry.
He maintained critical success for most of his career, weathering the controversies that his sexually provocative work would stir and some commercial flops. "When it comes to commercial cinema, I have the strange pleasure of feeling that I'm from another tribe, an infiltrator," he told Italian daily Corriere della Sera in 1990. Bertolucci was born in the northern city of Parma on March 16, 1941, the son of poet Attilio Bertolucci and his wife Ninetta. He was honored for lifetime achievement at the Cannes film festival in 2011. His greatest success came in 1988, when The Last Emperor won all the nine Academy Awards that it had been nominated for, including best movie and best director. (Bertolucci took renewed heat a few years ago over a scene in Last Tango.)