Bernardo Bertolucci Fails To Understand What Rape Actually Is

Posted by December 5, 2016 Comment


So, to catch everyone up, director Bernardo Bertolucci of Last Tango In Paris sparked outrage that the infamous rape scene in the movie was done without the full consent of the actress in the scene Maria Schneider, as told in Variety artticle. They did this to get a ‘genuine’ response from her. Bertolucci’s comments created a firestorm of anger from all corners of the film media and industry.

Bertolucci has issued a statement calling the entire thing a ‘ridiculous misunderstanding’ while also showing the entire world that he doesn’t understand what the definition of rape actually is. In a Deadline article Bertolucci said the following:

“I would like for the last time to clear up a ridiculous misunderstanding that continues to generate press reports about ‘Last Tango in Paris’ around the world. Several years ago, at the Cinematheque Francaise, someone asked me for details on the famous butter scene. I specified, but perhaps was not clear, that I decided with Marlon Brando not to inform Maria that we would [use] butter. We wanted her spontaneous reaction to that improper use [of butter]. This is where the misunderstanding lies. Somebody thought, and thinks, that Maria had not been informed about the violence on her. That is false.”

He then added:

“Maria knew everything because she had read the script, where it was all described. The only novelty was the idea of the butter.”

So here’s the thing that Bertolucci apparently doesn’t understand: not knowing about the butter means that it wasn’t informed consent and that’s what rape is.

You might have told her that the scene was happening but the minute you added an element without telling her she was not informed and you lost all right to refer to it as consensual.

This is what rape culture is and why people have this blurry definition of what consent actually is. Men like Bertolucci claim that this is “ridiculous” when situations like the one that happened to Schnieder happen in real life every single day. There are thousands of people that have their informed consent stripped away because people think “yes” means “yes to absolutely everything without negotiation.”

Bertolucci says he “doesn’t regret the scene” because of course he doesn’t; he doesn’t think he did anything wrong. This is the world we live in; a man can claim that rape accusations are “ridiculous” while having zero idea of what rape actually is.

As for the rest of us, we need to continue to push that informed consent is the only consent. Enough of men like Bertolucci blurring the line, or thinking that there is there is no line. Bertolucci apparently wouldn’t know the line if he saw it — in this case he didn’t.

Photo by Cinemazero

(Last Updated December 5, 2016 2:10 pm )

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About Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is the Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. She loves movies, television, comics, and political satire. She's a member of the UFCA and the GALECA. Feminist. Writer. Nerd. Follow her on twitter @katiesmovies and @safaiagem on instagram. She's also a co-host at The Nerd Dome Podcast. Listen to it at

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