News & Facts:
Yesterday, on November 26, 2018, at the age of 77, died the famous Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci.
His most famous film - "Last Tango in Paris", contained a very authentic rape scene, where Marlon Brando’s character forced himself on Maria Schneider’s female lead. According to Schneider, she wasn’t fully aware of the scale of the scene. She declared, in later years, that during that scene, she was "crying real tears" and “felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci”. The actress also confessed that this experience, with the film being displayed on movie screens worldwide, was in big part responsible for breaking her and ruining her life.
The film, however, got a "halo effect" from that scene, first earning X ratings and being banned in various countries, then earning an Oscar nomination and many great reviews from movie critics, who praised its authentic atmosphere and taboo-breaking.
Years after the film came out, Bertolucci admitted that it was not an entirely staged scene, that he planned it with Brando over breakfast, to get a real reaction from the 19-year-old Schneider: “I wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress. I wanted her to react humiliated.” After the first spreading of this news, Bertolucci kept insisting that Schneider did know about the violence and the only “surprise” was the part with butter, but said he regretted not having apologized to the actress, saying they were horrible to her, “in a way”.
Are real violence or sneaky acts a justified means for a great artistic result, or is it a violent act of a megalomaniac director who was testing the boundaries?
We had "the wave of movies with taboo-breaking sex scenes " of Bertolucci, Nicolas Roeg (who also died a few days ago at 93), Pasolini, and also the famous director Roman Polanski who was blamed for having sex with a 14-year-old.
Movie critics praised this movement as the birth of the transgressive cinema.
But you are entitled to think this is part of the "we can do whatever we want and get away with it because we are famous" in the movie industry, something that got widely denounced only many years later, in the shape of the #metoo campaign.
It is also interesting to note 2 facts:
Now, in the 2 days after the filmmaker’s death, a number of female artists, who are outspoken feminists and have previously expressed clear support of women concerned by #metoo, posted touching tributes to Bertolucci, causing, of course, waves of angry comments from followers calling him a “rapist”.
Once again, there are contradictory and unsettling sides to the story.
So how do we, as a society, should remember such people? The question of whether we should separate the art from the artist persists - even inside our office, some say that they admit the terrible things done by great artists and condemn them as people, but still admire their art, whereas others say that, if the bad things were done for art, then there can be no real separation.
And what do you think? Bertolucci died - RIP or be condemned? Or both?
Should we separate the art from the artist?