Following last weekend’s seeming confirmation from Bernardo Bertolucci that an infamous rape sequence in “Last Tango in Paris” was non-consensual and his subsequent clarification that it was all a “ridiculous misunderstanding,” the film’s cinematographer has weighed in on the controversy. Vittorio Storaro has spoken to the Hollywood Reporter about the “butter scene” involving Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider, saying that “nothing happened…Nobody was raping anybody. That was something made up by a journalist.”
After a few more choice comments for journalists, Storaro explains that “probably Bernardo felt that maybe he didn’t explain it completely to Maria from the beginning and that’s why he felt a little guilty and nothing more than that. What Bernardo said later was he would like to apologize to Maria, only because he probably didn’t explain to her at the beginning what was discussed with Brando.” He then adds again that “nothing happened during the shooting.”
In a 2007 interview with the Daily Mail, Schneider — who never filmed another nude scene, struggled with depression and addiction in the years following “Last Tango in Paris” and died of cancer in 2011 — said that “I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci.
Storaro collaborated with Bertolucci for decades, winning one of his three Academy Awards for “The Last Emperor”; his other two were for his work on “Apocalypse Now” and “Reds.” Though there’s “a possibility that Bernardo didn’t mention a specific detail to [Schneider],” he clarifies, “[Maria] knew perfectly well what she was doing. She knew pretty well what was happening in every scene. She was an actress and had no problems with this. It was an acting job, not something else.” Read his full interview here.