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Tue, 11 Dec 2018

Northeast Today

Italian Filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci Passes Away

Italian Filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci Passes Away
November 28
12:26 2018

NET Bureau

Italian film-maker Bernardo Bertolucci, who won Oscars with “The Last Emperor” and whose erotic drama “Last Tango in Paris” enthralled and shocked the world, died on Monday. He was 77.

Bertolucci’s press office, Punto e Virgola, confirmed the death in an email to The Associated Press. Italy’s state-run RAI said Bertolucci died at his home in Rome, surrounded by family.

“He will be remembered among the greatest in Italian and world film,” the Venice Film Festival, which awarded Bertolucci a lifetime achievement award in 2007, said in a statement.

Bertolucci’s movies often explored the sexual relations among characters stuck in a psychological crisis, as in “Last Tango,” which was banned in his own Italy for over a decade. The self-professed Marxist also did not shy away from politics and ideology, as in “The Conformist,” which some critics consider Bertolucci’s masterpiece.

Despite working with A-list American and international stars, Bertolucci always defended his own film-making style against what he said was the pressure of the U.S. film industry. He maintained critical success for most of his career, weathering the controversies that his sexually provocative work would stir and some commercial flops.

“When it comes to commercial cinema, I have the strange pleasure of feeling that I’m from another tribe, an infiltrator,” he told Italian daily Corriere della Sera in 1990.

Bertolucci’s movies also bore the imprint of the director’s own experiences in psychoanalysis. He always said that making films was his way of communicating with the audience. It was his personal language.

“Maybe I’m an idealist, but I still think of the movie theatre as a cathedral where we all go together to dream the dream together,” he said upon receiving an award from the Director’s Guild of America for his 1987 film “The Last Emperor.”

That movie handed Bertolucci his greatest success. In 1988 it won all the nine Academy Awards that it had been nominated for including best movie and best director.

The movie the first Western feature film to win permission to shoot in Beijing’s Forbidden City follows the life of China’s last emperor, from child-king at the end of the Qing Dynasty to war criminal and finally to an ordinary citizen in the People’s Republic.

It was filmed in the lush and vivid style that was one of Bertolucci’s trademarks. It featured grandiose scenes and intimate moments, and a flashback structure that is typical of biopics.

“The last emperor of Italian film is gone,” said Oscar-winning director Roberto Benigni and his wife, the actress Nicoletta Braschi, on learning of his death. In a statement carried by the ANSA news agency, the couple said his work remains “among the marvels of the 20th century.”

Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, who often worked with Bertolucci and won one of his three Oscars with “Last Emperor,” compared the director to William Faulkner.

“His style is not unlike that of Faulkner who’ll go on for 30 pages without a period. Bernardo doesn’t just use the camera to convey just one sentence. Everything flows into everything else,” said Storaro.

Bertolucci was born in the northern city of Parma on March 16, 1941, the son of poet Attilio Bertolucci and his wife Ninetta. The family moved to Rome when Bertolucci was 13.

Soon he established himself as one of the brightest young stars of international cinema. By his early 30s, he had already directed highly acclaimed movies- “Before the Revolution” in 1964, a reflection on politics and the middle-class set in the director’s hometown; “The Spider’s Strategem” in 1970, the story of a man who returns to the scene of the killing of his father, an anti-Fascist hero, to discover a web of lies; and “The Conformist,” which is based on an Alberto Moravia novel and depicts the struggle of a man, Jean-Louis Trintignant, to conform to society and expectations in Fascist Italy.

But it was with “Last Tango” that Bertolucci shot to stardom, and notoriety.

The film, starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider as a middle-aged man and younger woman who engage in a brutal sexual relationship in a bare Paris apartment, shocked the world and incurred censorship in his native country.

SOURCE: The Hindu

Image Credit: Los Angeles Times

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