Jill Layton
December 04, 2016 8:42 am
United Artists

Some really upsetting news has just surfaced about a scene in a classic film from 1972. The director of Last Tango in Paris admitted that a rape scene in the movie wasn’t consensual. The scene went down as one of Hollywood’s most controversial scenes ever, and now it’s very clear why.

The lead actress didn’t give her consent to actually be raped while filming.

19-year-old Maria Schneider played opposite 48-year-old Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris. The controversial scene had Brando’s character sexually assaulting Schneider’s character with a stick of butter. Her acting received critical praise, but we now know that it’s because the sexual assault wasn’t pretend.

In an interview at La Cinémathèque Française in Paris in 2013, director Bernardo Bertolucci admitted that he and Brando decided to use butter as a lubricant for the rape scene, but didn’t mention it to Schneider ahead of time.

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Disgusting doesn’t even begin to describe what the two men did to Schneider that day.

We can’t even begin to fathom the way she felt during and after the filming of that scene. That type of serious nonconsensual violation is never OK — not even for “art.” Schneider never received an apology from Brando or Bertulocci.

She sadly died in 2011 in Paris at the age of 58.

In 2007, Schneider wrote an essay for the Daily Mail. In it, she explained how she felt violated by the experience.

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After Last Tango in Paris, Schneider went on to have a successful film career in France. But she refused to film another nude scene ever again. And we absolutely don’t blame her.

Not surprisingly, Schneider wanted nothing to do with Bertolucci after the film wrapped.

He said he felt “guilty” for what he did, he didn’t regret it.

It’s a truly horrifying story, but worse, in a way, is that Schneider told her story so many years ago and yet it was dismissed until Bertolucci confirmed the sexual assault. When are we ever going to start believing women and assault victims without a powerful man’s word to back them up?

There is no excuse for this behavior to ever be tolerated in Hollywood (or anywhere). We hope this tragic story brings awareness to not only the lasting effects of rape, but the true story behind that controversial scene.

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