Last Tango in Paris director's rape scene confession triggers outrage

Bernardo Bertolucci (Reuters)
Bernardo Bertolucci (Reuters)

Outrage has erupted over director Bernardo Bertolucci's admission the infamous rape scene from Last Tango in Paris was sprung on the teenage actress without any warning.

In the scene, 19-year-old Maria Schneider is pinned down by 48-year-old Marlon Brando, armed with a stick of butter, on a living room floor. The sex isn't real, but the teenager said she felt "humiliated" and "a little raped" afterwards.

In newly discovered footage, director Bernardo Bertolucci admits he did not consult Schneider about the scene nor gain her consent, in order to make her reaction appear more authentic.

The actress died from cancer in 2011 and in the video, which was filmed in 2013, Bertolucci says he feels guilty over the way he and Brando treated her.

Jessica Chastain, Ava DuVernay, Lena Dunham and Chris Evans are among the Hollywood celebrities expressing disgust and horror over the filmmaker's confession of assaulting the teenager because he "wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress".

Anna Kendrick pointed out that Schneider told media about the truth behind the scene several years ago.

"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," Schneider said in 2007.

"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 apologise. Thankfully, there was just one take."

Last Tango in Paris shocked audiences with its graphic sexual depictions. For years after its release, Schneider struggled with drug addiction and depression.

"I feel guilty but I do not regret," Bertolucci says in the video.

"To make movies sometimes, to obtain something, we have to be completely free. I didn't want Maria to act her humiliation, her rage - I wanted Maria to feel, not to act. Then she hated me for all her life."

Among the outrage his comments have caused, there have been calls to have all copies of the film destroyed.