While looking for an apartment, Jeanne, a beautiful young Parisienne, encounters Paul, a mysterious American expatriate mourning his wife’s recent suicide. Instantly drawn to each other, they have a stormy, passionate affair, in which they do not reveal their names to each other. Their relationship deeply affects their lives, as Paul struggles with his wife’s death and Jeanne prepares to marry her fiance, Tom, a film director making a cinema-verite documentary about her.
Last Tango in Paris (Italian: Ultimo tango a Parigi) is a 1972 Franco-Italian erotic drama film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci which portrays a recently widowed American who begins an anonymous sexual relationship with a young betrothed Parisian woman. It stars Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider, and Jean-Pierre Léaud.
The film’s raw portrayal of sexual violence and emotional turmoil led to international controversy and drew various levels of government censorship in different venues. Upon release in the United States, the most graphic scene was cut and the MPAA gave the film an X rating. After revisions were made to the MPAA ratings code, in 1997 the film was re-classified NC-17 for “some explicit sexual content”. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released a censored R-rated cut in 1981.
About the Story
Paul (Marlon Brando), a middle-aged American hotel owner mourning his wife’s suicide, meets a young, engaged Parisian woman named Jeanne (Maria Schneider) at an apartment that both are interested in renting. Paul takes the apartment after they begin an anonymous sexual relationship there. He insists that neither of them must share any personal information, even given names. The affair continues until one day, Jeanne arrives at the apartment and finds that Paul has packed up and left without warning.
Paul later meets Jeanne on the street and says he wants to renew the relationship. He tells her of the recent tragedy of his wife. As he tells his life story, they walk into a tango bar, where he continues telling her about himself. The loss of anonymity disillusions Jeanne about their relationship. She tells Paul she does not want to see him again. Paul, not wanting to let Jeanne go, chases her back to her apartment, where he tells her he loves her and wants to know her name.
Jeanne takes a gun from a drawer. She tells Paul her name and shoots him. Paul staggers out onto the balcony, mortally wounded, and collapses. As Paul dies, a dazed Jeanne mutters to herself that he was just a stranger who tried to rape her and she did not know who he was, as if in a rehearsal, preparing herself for questioning by the police.
Last Tango in Paris (1972)
Directed by: Bernardo Bertolucci
Starring: Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider, Maria Michi, Giovanna Galletti, Catherine Allégret, Gitt Magrini, Marie-Hélène Breillat
Screenplay by: Bernardo Bertolucci
Production Design by: Philippe Turlure
Cinematography by: Vittorio Storaro
Film Editing by: Franco Arcalli, Roberto Perpignani
Costume Design by: Gitt Magrini
Set Decoration by: Philippe Turlure
Music by: Gato Barbieri
Distributed by: United Artists
Release Date: February 7, 1973