Controversial, Oscar-Winning Director Bernardo Bertolucci Dead at 77

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Controversial, Oscar-Winning Director Bernardo Bertolucci Dead at 77

Controversial, Oscar-winning Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci has died at the age of 77. He passed away at his home in Rome early Monday morning following a battle with cancer, per Variety.

The first and only Italian director to win the Best Director Oscar, for his 1987 epic The Last Emperor, which also won Best Picture and seven other Oscars that year, Bertolucci’s influential filmmaking career includes credits such as The Conformist, 1900 and, perhaps most notably, Last Tango in Paris.

Last Tango in Paris provoked international outcry when it premiered in 1972, and was banned in several countries, including Bertolucci’s home country of Italy, where in 1976, authorities condemned the film and ordered that all copies be destroyed due to its graphic content, including an infamous rape scene featuring stars Marlon Brando and then-19-year-old Maria Schneider.

Before Schneider’s death in 2011, she told the Daily Mail in 2007 that she “felt humiliated and to be honest … a little raped” by Brando and Bertolucci during the filming of the scene, which she says was filmed without her prior consent. She said at the time that the scene wasn’t in the original script, and that it was Brando who came up with the idea.

The controversy reignited in 2016, with the resurfacing of a video in which Bertolucci largely confirmed Schneider’s account, adding that he hadn’t told her because he “wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress,” and “wanted her to react humiliated.” The interview clip, originally filmed in 2013, was only posted online that year and compelled several notable Hollywood figures to voice their outrage on Twitter.

Bertolucci leaves behind a complicated legacy, though numerous leading film industry figures have paid tribute to the director for his contributions to world cinema on Twitter today.