Pawing through the Guardian this morning, I could not help notice the headline that Maria Schneider, Marlon Brando’s co-star in Last Tango in Paris, has died. She was sadly only 58 and the thought from the article is that the fame, or notoriety, from that film (directed by Bernardo Bertolucci) impacted her life in a negative way. Of course we will never know.
Schneider in a interview likened the experience in the film to one of being raped and said, in a quote that confronts someone like me, ”Never take your clothes off for a middle-aged man who claims that it’s art”.
Whether, when she was young, her mind told her to do it for art, fame or money we will never know. It certainly seems that like Brando, she was charmed by Bertolucci.
What comes across is that she did not appear in this film for her self, that she did not have the motivating factor of an inner self driven by fame or money, so that all that came out of it was regret.
Is the film art? I think history judges that it is. Whether you consider my photography art or not makes no difference, but in the end I’m clear that, in casting myself as the subject 25 years ago and since, it’s helped me as an individual develop and relate to my self and lead a relatively stable, happy life. I can look back and see that for me, even if I did not know it when it all started, it’s been therapy.