When the Whedon-altered version was released, it was bashed by critics and seen as commercially disappointing. The reception of the film contributed to WB’s decision to abandon Snyder’s plans for a multi-film arc, despite vocal fan protestations. A groundswell of fan campaigns demanding to see Snyder’s original vision for the project led to the eventual release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max, though there are no further plans to continue Snyder’s vision for the DC Extended Universe.
Last Tango in Paris (1972)
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After watching Bernardo Bertolucci’s relationship psychodrama at the New York Film Festival, influential critic Pauline Kael prophetically wrote, “This is a movie people will be arguing about, I think, for as long as there are movies.” Fifty years later, Kael is still correct.
Marlon Brando stars as a widower mourning his wife’s suicide when he crosses paths with a young Persian woman played by Maria Schneider. They begin an “anonymous” sexual relationship, before things take a possessive and violent turn. The film received an “X’ rating in the U.S., but faced wider International scrutiny. In Italy, police seized all copies of the film on the order of a prosecutor who defined the film as “self-serving pornography.” Bertolucci was also put on trial for obscenity. The trial went on until 1976 when the Italian courts ruled that all copies of the film must be destroyed and that Bertolucci must serve a four-month suspended sentence in prison, which saw his civil rights revoked for five years, depriving him of voting rights.
The film’s scandal centered mostly on an anal rape scene, featuring the use of butter as a lubricant. The scene was heavily altered by Brando, who encouraged the use of butter at the last minute. Schneider was 19 years old when the scene was shot, and later recounted the following in 2007:
“They only told me about it before we had to film the scene and I was so angry. I should have called my agent or had my lawyer come to the set, because you can’t force someone to do something that [when it] isn’t in the script, but at the time, I didn’t know that. Marlon said to me: ‘Maria, don’t worry, it’s just a movie,’ but during the scene, even though what Marlon was doing wasn’t real, I was crying real tears. I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or apologize. Thankfully, there was just one take.”