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Film: Last Tango in Paris

Ultimo Tango a Parigi (Last Tango in Paris) is a 1972 Italian drama film (though with French and English dialogue) directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider.

Paul (Brando), a 45-year old American who lives and owns a hotel abroad in Paris, is mourning the suicide of his wife when he meets Parisan woman Jeanne (Schneider) whilst apartment hunting. Jeanne herself is engaged to a film director, though Paul does not know this initially. The two feel lonely and marginalized, so they begin a torrid affair, of which the rules, as set by Paul, are that they do not tell each other any personal details about themselves; not even their names. As time goes by, Paul becomes possessive and starts to act abusively towards Jeanne; in one infamous scene he anally rapes her using butter as lubricant. He has fallen in love with her, and wants her for himself. He tries to pressure her into leaving her fiancee and telling him her name, and eventually she is left with no choice but to kill him by gunshot, thus ending the film.

When released, the film's groundbreaking subject matter caused a media frenzy and Moral Guardian outrage; despite some glowing critical reception and Academy Award nominations for Brando and Bertolucci. It is regarded nowadays as one of the best European films and best arthouse films ever made. It could be considered the progenitor of the Euroshlock genre. It is an obvious influence on the films of Catherine Breillat (who herself has a small appearance in the film), specifically Romance and Anatomy of Hell, both of which would help to revive the Euroshlock genre in the 2000s.


This film provides examples of:

  • Fanservice: Schneider gets naked. Brando doesn't, however. He did in the original cut, but Bernardo removed the scene. Sorry, ladies.
  • Licensed Sexist: Paul inherited some underlying baggage from his dead wife
  • Love Martyr: Jeanne to start, then Paul when he decides to pursue an actual emotional relationship with her at the end, eventually literally embodying this trope.

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alternative title(s): Last Tango In Paris
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