Sex Scenes Somene Should Have Stopped

Last Tango in Paris (1972)

A master class in how not to direct sex scenes. Thirty-year-old director Bernardo Bertolucci and 48-year-old star Marlon Brando decided the morning of the movie’s most infamous sex scene to incorporate butter into it, but didn’t tell 19-year-old lead actress Maria Schneider about it until the cameras were rolling.

“I wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress,” Bertolucci, who died in 2018, later said. “I wanted her to react humiliated.” Schneider, who died in 2007, said she did indeed feel violated by the scene.

When the scene gained renewed scrutiny in 2016, Bertolucci clarified that Schneider was aware that the scene would be violent, and that it was in the script, but that the “the only novelty was the idea of the butter. … And that, as I learned many years later, offended Maria. Not the violence that she is subjected to in the scene, which was written in the screenplay.” He also clarified that the sex in the film is all simulated. 

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