Bernardo Bertolucci: the legacy of the last great master of Italian cinema

In LatinAmerican Post we remember Bernardo Bertolucci who died on November 26

Bernardo Bertolucci: the legacy of the last great master of Italian cinema

On November 26 the Italian director and screenwriter Bernardo Bertolucci, who directed several films that revolutionized the film industry and won nine Oscars with his film The Last Emperor, died. In fact, Bertolucci "influenced generations of filmmakers with other innovative works such as El conformista and Último tango in Paris, in which he explored politics and sexuality through personal narrations and a bold camera," Variety said.

Leer en español: Bernardo Bertolucci: el legado del último gran maestro del cine italiano



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Born in 1941, Bertolucci "is considered the last representative of the generation of filmmakers who made Italian auteur cinema famous in the 60s and 70s of the last century", as Deutsche Welle mentions. However, in the 80s and 90s he began to explore other cultures that influenced his works, according to the same medium.

In LatinAmerican Post we remember this last great Italian master, who left a huge legacy after his death at the age of 77. A legacy that, although full of scandals, consolidated him as a legend of Italian cinema and worldwide. That is why we present three emblematic Bertolucci films and the history behind them.

Last tango in Paris (1972)

This is Bertolucci's most controversial and famous film, which shook the world with the violent rape scene starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider. The film tells the story of a widowed man and a young woman who have sex in an apartment in Paris. It was so scandalous that not only was it banned in Italy but, as he told in an interview with Film Comment magazine, Bertolucci was sentenced to two months in prison for being "obscene".

Some years later the film again caused controversy and became the center of criticism when a video, in which Bertolucci admitted that the rape scene with butter was made without Schneider's consent, something she also stated on one occasion, was published. In that video Bertolucci assured that it was an idea that Marlon and he had the morning before filming it. However, the director did not tell Scheider "what was going to happen, because he wanted her reaction as a child, not as an actress".

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Novecento (1976)

Starring great actors like Robert de Niro and Gérard Depardieu, Novecento or 1900 is Bertolucci's longest film, lasting just over five hours. The film, considered a cult film, tells the story of two childhood friends who become enemies since they are on opposite sides during a time of "class struggle in twentieth-century Italy," according to IMDb.

According to Milos Stehlik in an interview with WBEZ 91.5 Chicago, this is a film that needed that "epic sculpture" to show "that idea of a society in transition" that Bertolucci wanted to portray. For him, Bertolucci was a director ahead of his time, something that can be observed in artistic proposals such as Novecento that has "an amazing cinematography".

The last emperor (1987)

Many movie lovers will remember The Last Emperor, which is not only his most awarded film, but the one that marked a before and after in the career of this renowned Italian teacher. In addition to the nine Oscars, with this film Bertolucci also won two Golden Globes, a Golden Lion, a Golden Palm, a Cesar Award and a BAFTA. The film tells the story of Aisin Gioro Puyi, the last emperor of China, who ascended the throne at age three; as well as China's transition to communism, Stehlik mentions.

It is based on Puyi's autobiographical book and is the one that consolidated it worldwide. According to The New York Times, this film "is distinguished by its beautiful recreation of the ceremonial and lacquered interior of the Forbidden City, where Puyi was imprisoned for virtually 12 years after the tottering dynasty collapsed IGNORE INTO nothingness in 1912." This, in addition, is a tape that received the approval of the Chinese government to be shot in the Forbidden City. His script also received this nod, as the same media highlights.

Why is it a movie legend?

The Italian director became an "intellectual force in the cinema" and a legend because he was not afraid to explore topics that at that time could be considered controversial or scandalous, such as sexuality and incest. This is because, as Stehlik mentions, Bertolucci was a director with artistic proposals that sought to analyze the individual.

He was also a person who was not afraid to talk about politics in his films, in fact, he was very vocal as far as that is concerned, he explains; nor was he afraid to explore other cultures and portray them on the big screen under his critical lens. In this way, Bertolucci transcended the seventh art with his revolutionary artistic proposals that managed to impact an entire generation of viewers and creators of audiovisual content.


Una publicación compartida por Marisa Berenson (@marisaberensonofficial) el



LatinAmerican Post | Diana Rojas Leal

Translated from ¨Bernardo Bertolucci: el legado del último gran maestro del cine italiano¨

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