Last Tango In Paris Director Responds To Rape Backlash, Calls Controversy A ‘Ridiculous Misunderstanding’

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There was quite a controversy over the weekend when a few publications reported a scene in Last Tango In Paris was actually a real rape caught on film.

But according to the director, whose initial interview was the source of the controversy, this was all a “ridiculous misunderstanding.”

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The confusion started when a YouTuber posted a video of an interview with director Bernardo Bertolucci in which he talks about how actress Maria Schneider hated him because of the butter scene with Marlon Brando.

The director admitted with some guilt: ​

“I’d been in a way horrible to Maria because I didn’t tell her what was going on. Because I wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress. I wanted her to react and she felt humiliated├óΓé¼┬ª and I think that she hated me and also Marlon because we didn’t tell her that there was that detail of the butter used as a lubricant.”

After the story began to gain traction, publications like Variety ran headlines like “Last Tango in Paris Rape Scene Was Not Consensual.”

TIME even tweeted out:

After seeing the news, several celebrities like Jessica Chastain and Chris Evans took to Twitter to share their disgust:

While we don’t excuse Bertolucci or Brando’s behavior at all — EVERYTHING on a film set should be agreed upon by all parties — it’s important to note the director did NOT say the scene was a real filmed rape.

In fact, Schneider herself even addressed the awkward scene years earlier in a 2007 Daily Mail interview:

“That scene wasn’t in the original script. The truth is it was Marlon who came up with the idea. They only told me about it before we had to film the scene and I was so angry. 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. Marlon said to me, ├óΓé¼╦£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 Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or apologize. Thankfully, there was just one take.”

The fact that she was pressured into such an awkward and awful situation is totally unacceptable, but Schneider explicitly said “what Marlon was doing wasn’t real.”

The sex was simulated; there was not a filmed rape.

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As a result of the misleading headlines and ensuing backlash, Bertolucci felt the need to some forward and clear things up.

In a statement translated from Italian, the director said:

“I would like, for the last time, to clear up a ridiculous misunderstanding that continues to generate press reports about ├óΓé¼╦£Last Tango in Paris’ around the world.”

The 76-year-old continued:

“Several years ago at the Cinemath├â┬¿que 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!”

Bernardo went on to add:

“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.”

Honestly, we can’t believe Marlon and the director would keep any information like that from an actor regarding such a personal scene.

But we’re also incensed at all these publications for changing the story so much!

What are your thoughts on the whole confusing controversy?

[Image via United Artists.]

Dec 5, 2016 3:39pm PDT

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