Bertolucci on location for "Last Tango in Paris" with Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider in 1972.
BY LEE PFEIFFER
Bernardo Bertolucci, the acclaimed Italian director, has died in Rome at age 77. The cause of death was not immediately revealed. Bertolucci won an Oscar for his direction of the 1987 film "The Last Emperor" and also received acclaim for his earlier films that included "The Spider's Stratagem" and "The Conformist". A left-wing Marxist through much of his life, Bertolucci also directed the 1976 epic "1900" which was steeped in political overtones. His most famous and notorious film was "Last Tango in Paris" (1972), which was non-political but highly controversial. It's graphic sexual content was the cause of international controversy and resulted in Bertolucci being charged with obscenity in his native Italy. The film starred Marlon Brando in the tale of a depressed, middle-aged American ex-pat who indulges in a series of anonymous sexual encounters with a teenage Parisian girl (Maria Schneider.) The movie was highly praised in some quarters while being denounced as pretentious pornography in others. Largely on the strength of Brando's powerful performance, the movie was an international boxoffice smash despite the fact that it was basically fare for art house cinemas. Both Brando and Bertolucci received Oscar nominations for the film. Bertolucci also directed the 1979 drama "Luna" which was also controversial for its overtones of an incestuous relationship between a mother and her teenage son. He would go on to also direct "The Sheltering Sky", "The Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man". "The Sheltering Sky", "Stealing Beauty". "The Dreamers" and "Me and You". For New York Times coverage, click here.