Last Tango in Paris  

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"Get the butter" -- request by Marlon Brando to Maria Schneider in Last Tango in Paris (1972)

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Last Tango in Paris (Italian: Ultimo tango a Parigi, French: Le Dernier Tango à Paris) is a 1972 film which tells the story of an American widower who is drawn into a sexual relationship with a young, soon-to-be-married Parisian woman. It stars Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider and Jean-Pierre Léaud. The film was given an X rating by the MPAA upon initial release October 14, 1972 at the New York Film Festival. After revisions were made to the MPAA ratings code, it was classified as an NC-17, in 1997. MGM released an R-rated cut in 1981.

The movie was written by Bernardo Bertolucci, Franco Arcalli and Agnès Varda (additional dialogue) and was novelized by Robert Alley. It was directed by Bertolucci and cinematography by Vittorio Storaro. Agnès Varda also based the last scenes on the death of Jim Morrison in Paris.

The orchestral jazz soundtrack was composed by Gato Barbieri.

The film caused a deep scandal in Italy for an anal sex scene (featuring the use of butter).


Crazed with grief after his wife commits suicide, Paul, an American expatriate, roams Paris until, while apartment hunting, he faces Jeanne, an unknown girl across an empty room. Without a word, he has sex with her. Paul stays at the scene. While arranging his wife's funeral, Paul leases the apartment where he is to meet the puzzled girl for frenzied afternoons. "No names here," he tells her, setting the rules of the game. They are to shut out the world outside, forfeit their pasts and identities. Paul degrades Jeanne, leveling her inhibitions with sheer brutality. Paul is soon dissatisfied with possession of her body; he must have her mind. When she rejects his love to enter a comfortable marriage with her dull fiancé, Paul finally confesses: "you dummy, I love you."


Critic E. Ann Kaplan claims that the film wanders around aimlessly without any plot driven narrative or any kind of coherent cutting trying to imitate other French New Wave cinema, mostly Godard.

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