Bernardo Bertolucci OMRI (Italian: [berˈnardo bertoˈluttʃi]; 16 March 1941 – 26 November 2018) was an Italian film director and screenwriter with a career that spanned 50 years. Considered one of the greatest directors in Italian cinema, Bertolucci's work achieved international acclaim. He was the first Italian filmmaker to win the Academy Award for Best Director[a] for The Last Emperor (1987), one of many accolades including two Golden Globes, two David di Donatellos, a British Academy Award, and a César Award. In recognition of his work, he was presented with the inaugural Honorary Palme d'Or Award at the opening ceremony of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. He had previously received a Lifetime Achievement Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival.
|Born||16 March 1941|
|Died||26 November 2018 (aged 77)|
A protégé of Pier Paolo Pasolini, Bertolucci made his directorial debut at 22. His second film, Before the Revolution (1964), earned strong international reviews and has since gained classic status, being called a "masterpiece of Italian cinema" by Film4. His 1970 film The Conformist, an adaptation of the Alberto Moravia novel, is considered a classic of international cinema, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and the prestigious Berlin Golden Bear. His 1972 erotic drama Last Tango in Paris was controversial due to its sex scenes, in addition to an unscripted rape scene, which actress Maria Schneider did not consent to. Bertolucci's films such as the historical epic 1900 (1976), the family drama La Luna (1979), and the darkly comedic Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man (1981), were also controversial but acclaimed.
His 1987 film The Last Emperor, a biopic of Chinese monarch Puyi, was a critical and commercial success, earning rave reviews and sweeping the 60th Academy Awards (including Best Picture and Best Director). He followed its success with two more films in his "Oriental Trilogy" – The Sheltering Sky, an adaptation of the novel of the same name, and Little Buddha, a Buddhist religious epic. His 1996 film, Stealing Beauty, brought him his second of two Palme d'Or nominations. He continued directing well into the 21st century, releasing his final film, Me and You, in 2012.
Bertolucci's films often deal with themes of politics, sexuality, history, class conflict, and social taboos; and his style has influenced several filmmakers. Several of his films have appeared on lists of the greatest film of all time.
Bertolucci was born in the Italian city of Parma, in the region of Emilia-Romagna. He was the elder son of Ninetta (Giovanardi), a teacher, and Attilio Bertolucci, who was a poet, a reputed art historian, anthologist and film critic. His mother was born in Australia, to an Italian father and an Australian mother (of Irish and Scottish descent).
Having been raised in an artistic environment, Bertolucci began writing at the age of 15, and soon after received several prestigious literary prizes including the Premio Viareggio for his first book. His father's background helped his career: the elder Bertolucci had helped the Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini publish his first novel, and Pasolini reciprocated by hiring Bertolucci as first assistant in Rome on Accattone (1961).
Bertolucci had one brother, the theatre director and playwright Giuseppe (27 February 1947 – 16 June 2012). His cousin was the film producer Giovanni Bertolucci (24 June 1940 – 17 February 2005), with whom he worked on a number of films.
Bertolucci initially wished to become a poet like his father. With this goal in mind, he attended the Faculty of Modern Literature of the University of Rome from 1958 to 1961, where his film career as an assistant director to Pasolini began. Shortly after, Bertolucci left the university without graduating. In 1962, at the age of 22, he directed his first feature film, produced by Tonino Cervi with a screenplay by Pasolini, called La commare secca (1962). The film is a murder mystery, following a prostitute's homicide. Bertolucci uses flashbacks to piece together the crime and the person who committed it. The film which shortly followed was his acclaimed Before the Revolution (Prima della rivoluzione, 1964).
The boom of Italian cinema, which gave Bertolucci his start, slowed in the 1970s as directors were forced to co-produce their films with several of the American, Swedish, French, and German companies and actors due to the effects of the global economic recession on the Italian film industry.
Bertolucci caused controversy in 1972 with the film Last Tango in Paris, starring Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider, Jean-Pierre Léaud and Massimo Girotti. The film presents Brando's character, Paul, as he copes with his wife's suicide by emotionally and physically dominating a young woman, Jeanne (Schneider). The depictions of Schneider, then 19 years old, have been criticized as exploitive. In one scene, Paul anally rapes Jeanne using butter as a lubricant. The use of butter was not in the script; Bertolucci and Brando had discussed it, but they did not tell Schneider. She said in 2007 that she had cried "real tears" during the scene and had felt humiliated and "a little raped". In 2013 Bertolucci said that he had withheld the information from Schneider to generate a real "reaction of frustration and rage". Brando alleged that Bertolucci had wanted the characters to have real sex, but Brando and Schneider both said it was simulated. In 2016 Bertolucci released a statement where he clarified that Schneider had known of the violence to be depicted in the scene, but had not been told about the use of butter.
Following the “media glare” and her fame after the film's release, Schneider became a drug addict and suicidal. Criminal proceedings were brought against Bertolucci in Italy for obscenity; the film was sequestered by the censorship commission and all copies were ordered destroyed. An Italian court revoked Bertolucci's civil rights for five years and gave him a four-month suspended prison sentence. In 1978 the Appeals Court of Bologna ordered three copies of the film to be preserved in the national film library with the stipulation that they could not be viewed, until Bertolucci was later able to re-submit it for general distribution with no cuts.
Bertolucci increased his fame with his next few films, from 1900 (1976), an epic depiction of the struggles of farmers in Emilia-Romagna from the beginning of the 20th century up to World War II with an international cast (Robert De Niro, Gérard Depardieu, Donald Sutherland, Sterling Hayden, Burt Lancaster, Dominique Sanda) to La Luna, set in Rome and in Emilia-Romagna, in which Bertolucci deals with the thorny issue of drugs and incest, and finally La tragedia di un uomo ridicolo (1981), with Ugo Tognazzi.
The Last Emperor and later careerEdit
In 1987, Bertolucci directed the epic The Last Emperor, a biographical film telling the life story of Aisin-Gioro Puyi, the last emperor of China. The film was independently produced by British producer Jeremy Thomas, with whom Bertolucci worked almost exclusively from then on. The film was independently financed and three years in the making. Bertolucci, who co-wrote the film with Mark Peploe, won the Academy Award for Best Director. The film uses Puyi's life as a mirror that reflects China's passage from feudalism through revolution to its current state.
At the 60th Academy Awards, The Last Emperor won all nine Oscars for which it was nominated: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Music, Original Score and Best Sound.
The Last Emperor was the first feature film ever authorized by the government of the People's Republic of China to film in the Forbidden City. Bertolucci had proposed the film to the Chinese government as one of two possible projects. The other film was La Condition Humaine by André Malraux. The Chinese government preferred The Last Emperor.
After The Last Emperor, The Sheltering Sky and Little Buddha, Bertolucci returned to Italy to film, and to revisit his old themes but with varying results from both critics and the public. He filmed Stealing Beauty in 1996, then The Dreamers in 2003, which describes the political passions and sexual revolutions of two siblings in Paris in 1968.
In 2012, his final film, Me and You was screened out of competition at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and was released early in 2013 in the UK. The film is an adaptation of Niccolò Ammaniti's young-adult's book Me and You. The screenplay for the movie was written by Bertolucci himself, Umberto Contarello and Niccolò Ammaniti. Bertolucci originally intended to shoot the film in 3D but was forced to abandon this plan due to cost.
Bertolucci appeared on the Radio Four programme Start the Week on 22 April 2013, and on Front Row on 29 April 2013, where he chose La Dolce Vita, a film directed by Federico Fellini, for the "Cultural Exchange".
In the spring of 2018, in an interview with the Italian edition of Vanity Fair, Bertolucci announced that he was preparing a new film. He stated, "The theme will be love, let's call it that. In reality, the theme is communication and therefore also incommunicability. The favorite subject of Michelangelo Antonioni and the condition I found myself facing when I moved on from my films for the few, those of the sixties, to a broader cinema ready to meet a large audience."
As a screenwriter, producer and actorEdit
Bertolucci wrote many screenplays, both for his own films and for films directed by others, two of which he also produced.
Politics and personal beliefsEdit
Bertolucci's films are often very political. He was a professed Marxist and, like Luchino Visconti, who similarly employed many foreign artists during the late 1960s, Bertolucci used his films to express his political views; hence they are often autobiographical as well as highly controversial. His political films were preceded by others re-evaluating history. The Conformist (1970) criticised fascism, touched upon the relationship between nationhood and nationalism, as well as issues of popular taste and collective memory, all amid an international plot by Benito Mussolini to assassinate a politically active leftist professor of philosophy in Paris. 1900 also analyses the struggle of Left and Right.
On Twitter on 24 April 2015, Bertolucci participated in #whomademyclothes, Fashion Revolution's anti-sweatshop campaign commemorating the 2013 Savar building collapse, the deadliest accident in the history of the garment industry.
Bertolucci advocated the practice of Transcendental Meditation: "We want to evoke the present and it is difficult to do it all together, we can only meditate, as in transcendental meditation. One of the most powerful experiences. Either you meditate or watch a good movie, then the two things start to touch ... ".
- 1971: National Society of Film Critics Award for best director
- 1973: Nastro d'Argento for Best Director
- 1987: Academy Award for Best Director
- 1987: Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
- 1987: Golden Globe Award for Best Director
- 1987: Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay
- 1987: David di Donatello for Best Director
- 1987: David di Donatello for Best Script
- 1987: Nastro d'Argento for Best Director
- 1987: Directors Guild of America Award for best director
- 1997: Honorable Mention at the Locarno International Film Festival
- 1997: Award special visual sensitivity in directing at the Camerimage
- 1997: Award for collaborating director – director of photography (Vittorio Storaro) at Camerimage
- 1998: Recognition for free expression by the National Board of Review
- 1999: Life Time Achievement Award - 30th International Film Festival of India
- 2007: Golden Lion for his career at the Venice Film Festival
- 2011: Honorary Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival
|1966||Il canale||Yes||Yes||Documentary Short|
|1971||La salute è malata||Yes||No|
|1984||L'addio a Enrico Berlinguer||Yes||Yes|
|1989||12 registi per 12 città||Yes||No||Segment: Bologna|
- Grand-Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic of Italy (Rome, 2 June 1988), under proposal of the Council of Ministers.
- Gold Medal of the Italian Medal of Merit for Culture and Art of Italy (Rome, 21 February 2001). For having been able to combine poetry and great cinema as in the history of Italian cinema. For having known how to make different cultures and worlds dialogue, remaining strongly rooted in the culture of your country. For having been able to represent with passion and courage the political, social and cultural history of the last hundred years.
- Master's Degree Honoris Causa in History and Criticism of Arts and Performance of the University of Parma (Laurea Magistrale Honoris Causa in Storia e critica delle arti e dello spettacolo). Bernardo Bertolucci is one of the greatest and recognized filmmakers in the world. His cinema is a reference point for entire generations of directors, has thrilled millions of viewers, also arousing extensive cultural debates that have gone well beyond the film industry, and is the subject of significant historical and theoretical studies published in all of the major world languages.
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- Geoffrey Macnab (1 February 2013). "Bernardo Bertolucci: 'I thought I couldn't make any more movies'". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
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- Malkin, Bonnie (3 December 2016). "Last Tango in Paris director suggests Maria Schneider 'butter rape' scene not consensual". The Guardian.
- "Hollywood Reacts With Disgust, Outrage Over 'Last Tango in Paris' Director's Resurfaced Rape Scene Confession". The Hollywood Reporter. 3 December 2016.
- Kelley, Seth (3 December 2016). "'Last Tango in Paris' Rape Scene Was Not Consensual, Director Bernardo Bertolucci Admits".
- Canby, Vincent (12 February 1982). "Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man: A Kidnaping as Seen by Bertolucci". The New York Times.
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- "'The Last Emperor' Wins 9 Oscars And Is Named Best Film of 1987". The New York Times. 12 April 1988. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
- Love And Respect, Hollywood-Style, an April 1988 article by Richard Corliss in Time
- "Bertolucci: The Emperor's New Clothier". Los Angeles Times. 6 December 1987. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
- "Why Stealing Beauty Is the Ultimate Summer Movie". Vogue. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
- Bradshaw, Peter (6 December 2004). "The Dreamers". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
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- "Archive of films Golem: The Spirit of Exile / Golem: L'esprit de l'exil". Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
- "Interview to Mymovies". Mymovies.it. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
- Andre Soares (30 September 2009). "Penelope Cruz, Bernardo Bertolucci, Gael Garcia Bernal Sign Polanski Petition". Alt Film Guide. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- "Fashion Revolution: who made your clothes?".
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- Devipriya (January 1999). "30th IFFI Stars" (PDF). 30th International Film Festival of India '99. Directorate of Film Festivals. p. 150. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 January 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- "Grande Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana" (in Italian). Presidenza della Repubblica. 2 June 1988. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
- Italian-born Frank Capra won in the category twice, but was a naturalized U.S. citizen.
- Bernardo Bertolucci at IMDb
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- Jeremy Isaacs, "Face to Face: Bernardo Bertolucci", BBC interview, September 1989.
- Roger Ebert, review, The Last Emperor, Chicago Sun-Times, 9 December 1987.