One of the strongest foreign filmmakers of the 1970s and 1980s, Bernardo Bertolucci built a career with well-made, if not controversial films. Bertolucci broke through in the United States, winning two of the four Oscars for which he received nominations. His two victories came in 1988, when “The Last Emperor” took Best Picture. Bertolucci won Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for the film. Sadly, Bertolucci lost a long battle to cancer today and passed away at the age of 77 years old.
The director became one of the most well known Italian directors in America during his heyday. Bertolucci may have finally captured Oscar gold with “The Last Emperor,” but it was just his crowning achievement for American audiences. He first drew attention in America for “The Conformist” in 1970, earning him an Oscar nomination for writing. One of the films that his legacy has been built on is “The Last Tango in Paris,” well known for its graphic rape scene. The sequence earned the film an X-rating and drew criticism at the time. However, the Academy awarded Bertolucci a director nomination for the film. Marlon Brando, the actor who perpetrated the rape, also received a Best Actor nomination. In years since the sequence continues to be seen as one of the most problematic sequences in modern cinema.
Outside of his Oscar success, Bertolucci drew raves for several other films in his career. He received a Golden Globe nomination for director in 1990 for his followup to “The Last Emperor,” “The Sheltering Sky.” Bertolucci won an Honorary Golden Palme from the Cannes Film Festival in 2011. He brought two films to the festival, both of which competed for the Palme D’Or but went home empty-handed. His last film, “Me and You,” released in 2012. Bertolucci’s career ran for more than fifty years.
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Bernardo Bertolucci (1941 – 2018)