The Potential for Excess in the Toxic Nature of Gendered Power in the Production of Cinema
Bernardo Bertolucci's standing as an auteur has been part of the canon. In cinema studies literature, Last Tango in Paris is regarded as "among the best films of its time" (Lapin 22). In 1971, the then eighteen year old, Maria Schneider was approached to star in the film opposite the already legendary Marlon Brando (then forty-two year old) to be directed by one of the luminaries of European cinema. Schneider was interviewed many times after the film's release, and repeatedly made the claim that the anal rape scene was real to her, and that she had felt humiliated by both Brando and Bertolucci's treatment of her afterwards. This article revisits the film, its reception at the time, and its reception after the 2016 revelations by Bertolucci that Schneider's claims were true. Prior to the 1970s work of feminist film scholar, Laura Mulvey, the "gaze" in cinema was assumed to be a universal, non-gendered gaze. Mulvey's contribution was to gender the gaze, and theorise it as "the male gaze." She then argued that it is this "gaze" in cinema that is exploited by male directors, and that they utilise the camera as a second layer of gendered power. This was especially so for the director of arthouse films in the 1970s.
Hecate: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Women's Liberation
Studies in the Creative Arts and Writing not elsewhere classified