Bernardo Bertolucci, Italian director of 'Last Tango in Paris,' dies at age 77

Bernardo Bertolucci, the award-winning movie director, has died aged 77 following a battle with cancer, Ital...

Posted: Nov 26, 2018 1:24 PM
Updated: Nov 26, 2018 1:24 PM

Bernardo Bertolucci, the award-winning movie director, has died aged 77 following a battle with cancer, Italian officials confirmed Monday.

Bertolucci was perhaps best-known for introducing explicit cinematic sex into the mainstream through his erotic drama "Last Tango in Paris," starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider.

Bernardo Bertolucci

Celebrities

Continents and regions

Europe

France

Paris

Western Europe

Arts and entertainment

Deaths and fatalities

Movies

Society

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Media industry

Movie and video industry

Visual arts

Movie directors

He remained fiercely independent throughout his career and was considered by many to be one of the world's leading contemporary directors.

Bertolucci's interest in film started early in his childhood; his father was -- among other things, such as a poet and art history teacher -- a film critic.

By 15, the aspiring auteur had created two short films. But it was as an assistant director to Pier Paolo Pasolini on the controversial "Accattone" in 1961 where Bertolucci cut his teeth in the world of film.

Bertolucci's first feature "The Grim Reaper" marked him as a young director to watch despite being something of a box office failure.

Over the next few years, Bertolucci kept busy with a string of films including "Before the Revolution in 1964 and "The Spider's Stratagem" in 1970.

But it was with political drama "The Conformist" -- also released in 1970 -- in which Bertolucci evolved into a more mature director. Two years later came the release of "Last Tango in Paris."

"I felt prosecuted by censorship," Bertolucci told CNN back in 2007 regarding the Italian authorities' decision to condemn the film to be destroyed due to its graphic content.

"It was kind of a sign of the times, it was still an Italy where the reaction forces were ... much stronger than the progressive forces. The most humiliating thing ... I discovered I lost my civil right for five years. I couldn't vote. It was one of the worst moments in my relationship with my country."

But the film also offered the director the opportunity to build a treasured relationship with Hollywood legend, Marlon Brando.

Bertolucci's film "The Last Emperor" also won all nine Academy Award categories that it was nominated for in 1988. The movie was an epic look at the final days of divine right in China and is renowned for its lavish costumes, the sheer scale of the production thanks to a cast of thousands and the remarkable accomplishment of security permission to shoot in Beijing's Forbidden City.

"I was so excited about shooting in the Forbidden City that for nine weeks I couldn't sleep more than three to four hours a night," Bertolucci also said.

For a filmmaker who had, until that point in his career, stuck to smaller art-house projects, the immense size of the cast involved was daunting.

"I must admit the morning of the scene of the coronation of the little boy Emperor, I arrived in the courtyard of the supreme armory, and I saw these two to three thousand soldiers dressed up in costume ... and I was terrified. I remember that I hid in my caravan and the producer outside the door said, 'Bernardo, time to shoot.' [And I said] 'Go away. Go away.' It took a long time before I had the courage to go then," he recalled.

Tributes pour in

As news of the director's death emerged, many took to social media platforms to express their condolences, including former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

"Bernardo Bertolucci, one of the great masters of Italian cinema, has left us. I remember him as a spectator of his works, like everyone else. But also as a valuable advisor when we decided to invest more resources on cinema at Palazzo Chigi. Thank you Maestro, it was an honor. RIP" Renzi posted.

The president of the Italian General Entertainment Association, Carlo Fontana, described Bertolucci as "one of the greatest authors, perhaps the last one, of the Italian Cinema."

Fontana said Bertolucci's films "have become part of the collective imagination of our culture, going beyond our national borders to become milestones of the world cinema."

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi also tweeted condolences for Bertolucci -- who lived and died in the Italian capital.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 36578

Reported Deaths: 2258
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion10188604
Lake3876207
Allen181071
Cass15919
Elkhart158528
St. Joseph135838
Hendricks120478
Hamilton119194
Johnson1125113
Madison60061
Porter56233
Clark53942
Bartholomew53139
LaPorte44824
Howard44236
Tippecanoe4344
Jackson4012
Delaware39741
Shelby39722
Hancock35427
Boone32436
Floyd31941
Vanderburgh2913
Morgan28626
Noble27821
Montgomery24917
Clinton2471
White2399
Decatur23132
Grant22923
Dubois2113
Kosciusko2052
Harrison19622
Marshall1872
Henry18512
Vigo1828
Greene17226
Dearborn17122
Monroe17113
Lawrence17124
Warrick16729
Miami1461
Putnam1427
Jennings1324
Orange13122
LaGrange1282
Scott1263
Franklin1168
Ripley1086
Daviess10416
Carroll952
Wayne906
Steuben902
Wabash812
Newton8010
Fayette797
Jasper741
Jay580
Clay533
Randolph523
Rush513
Fulton511
Washington501
Pulaski500
Jefferson491
Whitley453
DeKalb451
Starke423
Perry390
Huntington382
Sullivan371
Wells350
Owen341
Brown331
Benton320
Knox310
Blackford272
Tipton261
Crawford250
Adams231
Switzerland220
Spencer221
Fountain222
Gibson202
Parke180
Posey160
Martin140
Warren131
Ohio130
Vermillion100
Union100
Pike60
Unassigned0180

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 125915

Reported Deaths: 5795
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook813443880
Lake8647334
DuPage7997394
Kane6672205
Will5799285
Winnebago246566
McHenry167779
St. Clair126292
Kankakee98954
Kendall83919
Rock Island70325
Champaign6777
Madison62465
Boone49817
DeKalb4508
Sangamon36029
Peoria30111
Jackson30010
Randolph2734
McLean22613
Ogle2253
Stephenson2115
Macon20020
Clinton19017
Union17114
LaSalle16016
Whiteside14913
Coles13817
Iroquois1355
Warren1220
Out of IL1161
Grundy1112
Knox1020
Jefferson10116
Monroe10012
McDonough9113
Unassigned900
Lee821
Tazewell815
Cass760
Williamson753
Henry700
Pulaski580
Marion520
Jasper467
Macoupin462
Adams441
Morgan421
Perry420
Vermilion421
Montgomery411
Livingston362
Christian354
Jo Daviess321
Douglas280
Jersey241
Menard220
Bureau211
Fayette213
Ford211
Woodford212
Washington190
Mason180
Mercer180
Carroll172
Hancock171
Shelby161
Alexander140
Schuyler130
Bond121
Franklin120
Fulton120
Moultrie120
Clark110
Crawford110
Johnson110
Logan110
Piatt110
Brown100
Cumberland100
Wayne91
Effingham81
Henderson80
Massac70
Saline70
Greene60
Wabash60
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland40
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
White20
Calhoun10
Edgar10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Terre Haute
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 64°
Robinson
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 67°
Indianapolis
Scattered Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 64°
Rockville
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 60°
Casey
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 66°
Brazil
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 64°
Marshall
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 64°
Mostly sunny and hot
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Art honors Hoosier pilot

Image

Protesters gather for change

Image

Free Fishing Weekend

Image

First outdoor market of summer in Terre Haute

Image

Individual diploma presentations

Image

Protesters demand justice for George Floyd

Image

1 injured in ATV accident

Image

Saturday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Umpires

Image

The Salvation Army and the historic origins of National Donut Day

WTHI Events