Bernardo Bertolucci: Io e te e la retrospettiva al MOMA

Su Green Cine Daily, Bernardo Bertolucci ha rilasciato una lunga e preziosa intervista sul nuovo progetto tratto dal libro di Ammaniti e sulla retrospettiva, che il MOMA di New York gli sta dedicando in questi giorni.

Vi invitiamo a leggerla tutta, qui qualche piccolo estratto.

“It’s healthier not to watch your old movies,” he says. “My expectation is always more than what the film gives.


The women you’ve casted in your films have always been fascinating to watch, from Dominque Sanda in The Conformist to Eva Green in The Dreamers. Over the decades, how have they changed?

Each one is very, very particular and different from the others. Let’s imagine that every time a director has a love story with the actors of his movies, so every time is a love story and sometimes the love has been consumed. So maybe I won’t tell you their names, but there are more memories added to the memories of the movies.

Is it still possible for sex on film to provoke?

I could swear that when I shot Last Tango with this frontal nudity, I never thought that I was doing something provocative. I thought that what was provocative in the film was the despair in the character of Brando. That was the real thing I wanted to talk about. It was this desperate version of An American in Paris. He was old-fashioned macho in a way, but meantime he was wearing despair all the time, like it was his camel-hair coat. I was feeling like I had the key to get Marlon far away from the Brando-esque mannerisms we had seen in all his movies. I wanted to see who was the man behind all these masks, to get to the real man—more than the super actor.

Could you get there in a few takes or was it a more consuming process?

He didn’t speak to me for years after the movie. I couldn’t understand. I was going to LA, calling him, and he wouldn’t answer, and I knew he was sitting by the phone. I was casting 1900, and I called a great friend of his, and she told me that in doing the film he wouldn’t realize how much of his truth was delivered for the camera. He felt tricked. When he saw the movie, he realized he went much further than he thought. I’m not talking about sex. But how much of his real humanity I’d been able, let’s say in quotes, “to steal from him.” I thought, my God, I am 33, he is 50. He is incredibly experienced, more than me. How could I have done that? There were years he disappeared. Years later, I called him. He said, “Oh, why not come to see me?” I drove to Mulholland Drive, and thought I will crash. I will vomit, because the emotion is too strong. I tried to drive so cautiously to his place. We talked for hours and hours. I was forgiven.

When you made 1900, it was rejected by Hollywood. A decade later, you came back with another epic, The Last Emperor, and they couldn’t give it enough Oscars.

1900 was like an illness, a disease. I invested so much in that film, and my dream was to be able to talk about socialism and farmers where I was born, to the United States. To go with a film that had a definite political position, into the country that was the other part of the Cold War. But I was stopped by Paramount. I fought and fought and at a certain point I give up. I was becoming sick. The president of Paramount was saying, “This film is no good at five hours. It will not be good at four, or at three hours. In this film, simply, there are too many red flags. Period.” I wanted that all these red flags had to be accepted by people in the United States. I had a group of American movie critics creating a manifesto defending 1900. When after months and months of discussions I accepted to make a four-hour version, these people who defended me were very upset. So I even betrayed the ones who believed in me, it was terrible. But I had to do a shorter version.

Going back to where the conversation started, it’s exciting to hear you’ve decided to make another movie.

For two years I was really thinking I would never do another film, and accepting that—a bit. Then, maybe the coincidence of the trip to New York, and this retrospective, and to read a book I loved, helped me a lot. Now I am just trying to take it easy, not to be too excited. Too much excitement kills.

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