“I wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress…I wanted her to react humiliated.”
Last Tango In Paris may be one of the most iconic films of all time, but it’s also one of the hardest to watch. I remember vividly having to look away from the screen during the now infamous ‘butter scene’ when I watched it with a boyfriend some years ago. It never sat well with me.
If you’re not already familiar with the cult 1972 film, starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider, it focuses on the journey of a widowed American (Brando) who begins an anonymous sexual relationship with a young Parisian woman (Schneider), and is most widely known for its shocking rape scene, in which Brando’s character uses a stick of butter to violate his lover, played by then-19 year-old actress, Schneider.
The scene is, to date, one of the most confronting in cinematic history; but its director, Bernardo Bertolucci’s admission that the rape of Schneider’s character was in fact real, and arranged without the 19 year-old actress’s consent, takes the film’s footage to a horrifying level.
In a recently surfaced video interview with the director about the film, Bertolucci says he and then-48 year-old actor Marlon Brando conspired for Brando to rape Schneider in real-time without telling her, in order to make the scene appear more authentic.
“The sequence of the butter is an idea that I had with Marlon in the morning before shooting,” Bertulocci said at an event held at La Cinémathèque Française in Paris in 2013.
“I wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress…I wanted her to react humiliated. If it goes on, she’d shout, “No! No!”, and I think she hated me and also Marlon because we didn’t tell her.”
When asked if he regretted his actions toward the teen actress, who died in 2011 after battling with drug addiction and depression following the film’s release, the director said he’d experienced guilt, but wouldn’t have changed what he did.
“I feel guilty, but I do not regret. To make movies sometimes is to obtain something…I didn’t want Maria to act her humiliation, her rage. I wanted Maria to feel…Then she hated me for all life.”
In an exclusive with Daily Mail in 2007, Schneider revealed she felt violated by the experience.
“I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci…After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or [say sorry]. Thankfully, there was just one take.”
Video and image via youtube.com.
Comment: Do you think Bertolucci Marlon Brando should have been prosecuted for what they did to Maria Schneider?