Last Tango in Paris: story behind Bertolucci’s film to become TV series

·2-min read

Released in 1972, and starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider, Last Tango became notorious for its graphic sex scenes and treatment of 19-year-old female lead

The story behind the production of the controversial Bernardo Bertolucci drama Last Tango in Paris, which starred Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider, is to become a TV series, it has been announced.

Released in 1972, Last Tango became notorious for its graphic sex scenes and the treatment of Schneider, its 19-year-old female lead, by Bertolucci and Brando. In 2016, controversy was reignited after a three-year-old video of Bertolucci emerged discussing how he and Brando had not informed Schneider about the content of the film’s infamous rape scene. The airing of the admission led to an explosion of anger, including a tweet from Jessica Chastain saying: “To all the people that love this film – you’re watching a 19yr old get raped by a 48yr old man. The director planned her attack. I feel sick.”

In an interview in 2007, Schneider said that while the sex was simulated, she had been “forced” to do the scene, which was not in the script, and that she “felt humiliated and to be honest … felt a little raped”.

According to Deadline, the series will span the 18 months before, during and after the production of the film and will begin with Bertolucci travelling to Los Angeles in 1971 to convince a broken-down and bankrupt Brando to take the role.

Directors Lisa Brühlmann (Killing Eve) and José Padilha (Narcos) have been named to take charge of filming. Brühlmann said: “The opportunity to dive into that world, into all these fascinating characters, and especially the possibility of giving Maria Schneider a voice, is really exciting.” Padilha said: “Tango tells the story of two men abusing a young and unexperienced woman, not for sex, but for the sake of art. They did it on camera, and the resulting scene made it into a major feature film, acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. The director and the actors basked in success, while Maria’s pain was neglected.”

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