Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci dies
Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci, whose films include "The Last Tango in Paris" and "1900", died in Rome at the age of 77, Italian media reported on Monday.
Considered one of the giants of Italian and world cinema, Bertolucci was the only Italian to win the Oscar for best film, winning the 1988 award for "The Last Emperor."
This biographical masterpiece of the last Chinese emperor won a total of nine Oscars in all categories for which it was nominated.
The filmmaker gained notoriety with his erotic drama of 1972 "The Last Tango in Paris" with Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider, who presented a scene of controversial sex involving butter.
He had been in a wheelchair for several years and won an honorary Golden Palm for all his work at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
Former festival president Gilles Jacob said he was saddened by the death of the "last emperor of Italian cinema, master of all epics and adventures."
"The party is over: you have to be two to tango," Jacob told AFP.
Born in 1941 in Parma, northeastern Italy, Bertolucci produced films that were often highly politicized, dealing with workers' struggles in "1900" or the fate of Italy's fascist leftists in "The Conformist."
Bertolucci acknowledged that in "The Last Tango in Paris," Maria Schneider, 19, did not know that the character played by Marlon Brando would use butter as a lubricant during the scene in which the actor simulates anal penetration.
"The only thing new was the idea of butter. That's what, and I learned that many years later, it bothered Maria, not the violence of the scene that was imagined in the movie script."
"It's both comforting and frightening that anyone can be so naive to believe that what happens on the screen really does happen," he said of the audience.
Maria Schneider, who suffered from substance abuse and depression before her death in 2011, said four years ago that she felt "a little raped" during the scene and was deeply angry for years after filming the film.
When asked in 2013 how he would like to be remembered, Bertolucci told AFP: "I do not care."
"I think my films are there, that people can see them," he said during a presentation of the 3D version of "Last Emperor" to mark the 25th anniversary of its international launch.
"And sometimes I laugh, thinking I'll be remembered more as a talent hunter for young people than as a filmmaker," he said.
The list of stars he discovered included Dominique Sanda in "The Conformist" in the 1970s, Maria Schneider in "The Last Tango in Paris" (1972), Liv Tyler in "Beauty Volée" in 1996 and Eva Green, who debuted in screen on "Innocents" in 2003.