Bertolucci admits infamous Last Tango 'butter' rape scene was non-consensual

Tom Butler
UK Movies Editor

A video of Italian director Bernando Bertolucci confessing that he and Marlon Brando conspired to shoot a rape scene in ‘Last Tango In Paris’ without the consent of the film’s lead actress Maria Schneider has surfaced online.

Bertolucci made the comments about the film’s infamous “butter scene” during a Q&A at La Cinémathèque française in Paris in 2013, two years after Schneider’s death. The scene in question shows Paul (Marlon Brando, then 48-years-old) violating Jeanne (Maria Schneider then 19-years-old) with the aid of a stick of butter for lubricant, and Bertolucci admits he feels guilty about how they shot it.

“The sequence of the butter is an idea that I had with Marlon in the morning before shooting,” Bertolucci says.

‘Last Tango In Paris’ – Credit: United Artists

“But 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 humiliated. If it goes on she shot ‘no, no!’. I think she hated me and also Marlon because we didn’t tell her that there was this detail of the butter [being] used as lubricant. ”

In 2007, Maria told the Daily Mail she felt “raped” by Marlon Brando during that scene.

“Marlon said to me: ‘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,” she said.

“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 apologise. Thankfully, there was just one take.”

The video of Bertolucci confessing was uploaded to YouTube by El Mundo De Alycia – Credit: YouTube

Bertolucci’s confession paints the scene in an even seedier and unpalatable manner (if it’s possible) with the Oscar-winning director admitting he feels responsible.

“I still feel very guilty for that. I feel guilty, but I don’t regret [shooting it like that].”

“To obtain something I think you have to be completely free. I didn’t want Maria to act her humiliation her rage, I wanted her to Maria to feel – not to act – the rage and humiliation. Then she hated me for all of her life.”

Following the release of the film in 1972, Schneider resolved to never shot nude scenes again and suffered a number personal issues throughout her life including drug abuse, mental health problems, and a suicide attempt.

She died in 2011 from cancer.


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