‘Last Tango in Paris’…redux

HORDES of unruly men pushing, shoving, destroying anything along the way and literally sowing garbage on the streets, and they call that Feast of the Black Nazarene, a religious procession. I’ll take Dinagyang any day over that nonsense.

Nothing spiritual really, just greedy people with ulterior motives, usually material wants.

Perhaps a revisit on a column about erotica, sex and jazz is more spiritual and sensual.  Are you aroused already? Let’s start the foreplay.

From that free online encyclopedia a.k.a. the internet:

Last Tango in Paris is a 1972 erotic drama film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci which portrays a recently widowed American who begins an anonymous sexual relationship with a young Parisian woman. It stars Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider.

The film’s raw portrayal of sexual violence and emotional turmoil led to international controversy and drew various levels of government censorship in different venues. Upon release in the United States, the most graphic scene was cut and the MPAA gave the film an X rating. After revisions were made to the MPAA ratings code, in 1997 the film was re-classified NC-17 for “some explicit sexual content”. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released a censored R-rated cut in 1981.

This is probably the most controversial film solely about sex and I mean the graphic and raw kind, the one’s you’ll see only on Pornhub that was not classified as pornography and stars really major Hollywood actors and got an Oscar nomination and won a Grammy for the soundtrack.

This film would make 50 Shades of Grey and its sequels look like a Disney movie.

Take note, the leading stud, I mean the leading man, is Marlon Brando and you could not get any major Hollywood than that.

Here’s a synopsis of the film:

Paul (Marlon Brando), a middle-aged American hotel owner mourning the suicide of his wife, meets a young Parisian woman named Jeanne (Maria Schneider) at an apartment that both are interested in renting. Paul takes the apartment after they begin an anonymous sexual relationship there. He insists that neither of them must share any personal information, even given names. The affair continues until one day, Jeanne arrives at the apartment and finds that Paul has left.

Paul later meets Jeanne on the street and says he wants to renew the relationship. He tells her of the recent tragedy of his wife. As he tells his life story, they walk into a tango bar. The loss of anonymity disillusions Jeanne about their relationship. She tells Paul she does not want to see him again. Paul, not wanting to let Jeanne go, chases her back to her apartment, where he tells her he loves her and wants to know her name.

Jeanne takes a gun from a drawer. She tells Paul her name and shoots him.

Bernardo Bertolucci developed the film from his sexual fantasies: “He once dreamed of seeing a beautiful nameless woman on the street and having sex with her without ever knowing who she was.”

The film generated considerable controversy because of its subject and graphic portrayal of sex. 

The film contains a scene in which Brando’s character anally rapes Schneider’s character using butter as lubricant. While the rape is simulated, the scene still had a tremendous negative effect on Schneider. Some unconfirmed stories later came out that the rape scene was not simulated but actually was real.

The film’s scandal centred mostly on that anal rape scene, featuring Paul’s use of butter as lubricant. According to Schneider, the scene was not in the original script, but was Brando’s idea. 

Marlon Brando’s character Paul would make Jamie Dornan’s character Christian Grey look like a wholesome Prince Charming in that Disney film Cinderella. Incidentally Marlon Brando got an Oscar nomination for that role.

The film premiered in New York City on Oct. 14, 1972, to enormous public controversy, as it had received coverage after opening in France. The media frenzy surrounding the film generated intense popular interest as well as moral condemnation, and the film was featured in cover stories in both Time and Newsweek magazines. Playboy published a photo spread of Brando and Schneider “cavorting in the nude.” 

Time wrote: Any moviegoers who are not shocked, titillated, disgusted, fascinated, delighted or angered by this early scene in Bernardo Bertolucci’s new movie, Last Tango in Paris, should be patient. There is more to come. Much more.

And let’s talk about the film’s soundtrack:

The film score was composed by Gato Barbieri, arranged and conducted by Oliver Nelson

AllMusic’s Richie Unterberger noted, “Although some of the smoky sax solos get a little uncomfortably close to 1970s fusion cliché, Gato Barbieri’s score to Bertolucci’s 1972 classic is an overall triumph. Suspenseful jazz, melancholy orchestration, and actual tangos fit the film’s air of erotic longing, melancholy despair, and doomed fate.”

For the uninitiated:

Leandro “Gato” Barbieri was an Argentine jazz tenor saxophonist who rose to fame during the free jazz movement in the 1960s and is known for his Latin jazz recordings of the 1970s. His nickname, Gato, is Spanish for “cat.”

His score for Bernardo Bertolucci‘s 1972 film Last Tango in Paris earned him a Grammy Award.

The film was never shown in the Philippines at the time of its release the country was under martial law so the film was banned, the irony though was then President Marcos and then Cardinal Sin both were one in having this controversial film banned.

Of course I saw the entire uncut Director’s version of the film Last Tango in Paris courtesy of an artist friend who had a bootleg 8mm version and it took me a long time to appreciate butter as something you spread on toasted bread and not as a lubricant for anal sex. ([email protected]/PN)


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