«Last Tango in Paris» tells the story of a recently widowed American, Paul (Marlon Brando), and a dalliance between him and Jeanne (Maria Schneider), a young Parisian woman. The film generated controversy upon release due to the explicit portrayal of sexual violence, earning it an X rating. The rating has since been changed to an NC-17 rating, though Criterion released an uncut and unrated version of the film on Laserdisc.
The movie earned notoriety for a sexual assault scene that involves Paul using butter as a lubricant. The film is infamous for the scene, and the manner in which director Bernardo Bertolucci shot it left Schneider feeling violated. Though not initially in the script, the director filmed the scene at Brando’s suggestion. Schneider has spoken about the scene over the years and explained how it made her feel in a 2007 interview:
«I was so angry. Marlon said to me, ‘Maria, don’t worry, it’s just a movie,’ but during the scene, even though what Marlon was doing wasn’t real, I was crying real tears,» she said. «I felt humiliated, and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by [director Bernardo] Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or apologize. Thankfully, there was just one take» (via Independent).
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN’s National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).