The Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci, author of the Sulfur last tango in Paris and the great historical fresco Novecento, died yesterday in Rome at the age of 77 years. "Bernardo Bertolucci left us today at 07:00 (06:00 GMT)", his press service said yesterday, without specifying the reasons for his death. According to the Italian media, he had cancer. Bertolucci, considered one of the last giants in the cinema, had won Oscar for Best Director in 1988 for The Last Emperor, the film has won a total of nine Oscars.
"He was the last emperor of Italian cinema, master of all frescoes and all escapades. The party is over: you must be two to dance the tango," said Gilles Jabob, former president of the Cannes Film Festival, who had given Bertolucci a top honor in 2011. "We will remember him as one of the most Italian and world cinema," commented the president of the Venice Film Festival, Paolo Baratta, and recalls that Bertolucci had twice led the jury to this festival in 1983 and 2013. Mostra had also commemorate him in awarding him a Golden Lion in 2007 for his career. The mayor of Rome, where the film maker had chosen to live his last days, greeted him a "great champion" of Italian and the world's cinema. "His death is also a bit like spring," said Italian director Marco Bellochio, a filmmaker of the same generation as Bertolucci.
For his part, Bernardo Bertolucci judged modestly in 2013 that he would probably be in the heart of filmgivers as "a discovery of young actresses" after playing Dominique Sanda, Maria Schneider, Liv Tyler or Eva Green.
Born March 16, 1941 in Parma, a refined city in northern Italy, where he finds the Prima della Revoluzione (1964, Critics' Prize in Cannes), Bertolucci grew up in a simple and intellectual environment. He has a revelation of the cinema by watching Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita. His father, poet, professor of history and film critic, offers him his first 16mm camera by 15 years. In Rome, where he will study literature, he meets Pier Paolo Pasolini, who attends the set of Accatone. Member of the Italian Communist Party, he becomes The Conformist, inspired by a novel by Alberto Moravia, highlighting the intimate motivations of a young civilization among the fascists under Mussolini.
Politics and mystery
After the scandal, but also the success of Last Tango in Paris (1972), Bertolucci has enough means to turn his great historical fresco Novecento, one of his great works that encompasses almost a century class struggle in rich plains of Po through the fate of two childhood friends. The film is carried by a prestigious international cast (Robert De Niro, Gerard Depardieu, Burt Lancaster, Dominique Sanda). The inauguration of his peers will come to him with the last emperor, shot in 1987. Director, but not only, he was also the once-in-a-century censor of the West, the famous film of Sergio Leone and archetype of spaghetti western.
Bertolucci was a fertile creator who was attracted to formal research. An explorer of people's relationship with history, he is one of the few Italian filmmakers who have spent part of their career abroad. He was followed by the sulfuric reputation of the last tango in Paris, where Marlon Brando, at that time a true living legend, played one of his last major roles. A scene of sodomi that was considered bold at the time, had caused the ban on the film in Italy. The 19-year-old actress Maria Schneider (1952-2011) was greatly impressed with the film when Bertolucci later acknowledged that she was not fully aware of what she should do, including the famous use of a piece of butter.
Paris is still in the center of his movie The Dreamers (2003), the history of political passions and sexual revolution in 1968. China with the last emperor, Saharan tea and Bhutan with Little Buddha offered him horizons more distant, expressing his mysterious research. Her passion for psychoanalysis manifests itself in La Luna, depicting the troubled relationship between a lyric artist and her teenage son. Later, Bertolucci returned to Italy to turn the Beauty Chair (1996), an initiative trip to Italy by a young woman whose mother committed suicide. Despite his impressive filmography, he admitted that he "had occasionally been wrong": "But all my choices were sincere."
Attached to the movie, he tried to become digital to me and you (2012), his latest movie … before giving up. "The definition and sharpness were very big, but I wanted the film to have an impressionistic quality," he had justified. However, he was aware of the technological changes that pull the cinema: "Soon we will see the films on cigarette packages or on our watch. It will be necessary to invent stories that are able to adapt to different formats." If a young person asked Me about the most important thing to do to start a career as a filmmaker, I would tell him to be sincere and follow his heart. It's very important to be honest in what you do, "he said. At the end of his career, the film maker admitted his admiration for the new wave of American TV shows, including Breaking Bad.
His most famous films
– Prima della Revoluzione (1964)
– Partner (1968)
– Spider's strategy (1970)
– The Conformist (1970)
– The last tango in Paris (1972)
– 1900 (1976)
– Luna (1979)
– The Tragedy of a Lachy Man (1981)
– The Last Emperor (1987)
– A tea in the Sahara (1990)
– Little Buddha (1993)
– Stolen Beauty (1996)
– Innocent: The Dreamers (2003).
In the news
Interview of Élie SAÏKALI