‘Last Tango in Paris’ remains a big deal, both as a movie and as the complicated legacy of Bernardo Bertolucci

Posted on December 2, 2018


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: https://www.firstpost.com/entertainment/last-tango-in-paris-remains-a-big-deal-both-as-a-movie-and-as-the-complicated-legacy-of-bernardo-bertolucci-5657231.html

It’s a little hard, in this been-there-seen-that era, to grasp what a big deal Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris was, upon its release in 1972. Indeed, one of my favourite appraisals of the film (though, clearly, not one that I agree with) is by a user named Dave J on the Rotten Tomatoes web site: “To some it’s one of those great films about a husband [played by Marlon Brando] making attempts to get over his wife’s suicide by continually making out with a French escort played by Maria Schneider in which film critics Roger Ebert gave it 4 stars out of 4 and Leonard Maltin giving it 3 and a half out of 4, but if you’re watching it for pure enjoyment, I don’t find anything entertaining to see an wrinkled up overweight man (I don’t care whether or not he’s the greatest actor on earth) making out with a mediocre French actress with hairy armpits.”

But back then, a court in Bologna banned the film on the grounds of “obscene content offensive to public decency… presented with obsessive self-indulgence, catering to the lowest instincts of the libido, dominated by the idea of stirring unchecked appetites for sexual pleasure, permeated by scurrilous language… accompanied off screen by sounds, sighs and shrieks of climax pleasure.” On the liberal side of things, there was Pauline Kael’s New Yorker review: “This must be the most powerfully erotic movie ever made, and it may turn out to be the most liberating movie ever made… [I think those of us who had speculated about erotic movies]  had expected artistic blue movies, talented directors taking over from the Schlockmeisters and making sophisticated voyeuristic fantasies that would be gorgeous fun – a real turn-on. What nobody had talked about was a sex film that would churn up everybody’s emotions.”

Continued at the link above.

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