Prominent Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertulocci, the academy award-winning director of films such as "The Last Emperor", "Last Tango in Paris" and The Dreamers", died Sunday after a brief battle with cancer. He was 77. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson of the filmmaker confirmed the news of his death in Rome.
Known for vivid visuals in the films, the director was one of most recognisable face of Italian cinema. He is considered an acclaimed auteur who pushed the boundaries with his unique filmmaking style.
He made his directorial debut at a very young age of 22 with the 1962 film "La commare secca" and his style of using flashbacks to tell the story was applauded by the critics.
But it was his 1987 feature "The Last Emperor", epic biographical drama film about the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China, that brought the filmmaker all the glory. The film won nine Oscars, including best picture and best director for Bertolucci.
The director found his place among the stars after the film, with many acclaimed actors lining up to work with him.
His other notable works include Eva Green-starrer "The Dreamers", "1900" and "The Conformist, among others.
The director's legacy, however, wasn't without a blemish, courtesy his 1972 feature "Last Tango in Paris", starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider. The film had attracted controversy after Schneider alleged that she was never consulted regarding a rape scene.
Years later, in a 2013 interview, Bertolucci admitted that Schneider, who died in 2011, did not know about the rape scene which she shot with Brando, and that the graphic nature of the scene in the erotic drama was improvised on set.
"I'd been in a way horrible to Maria because I didn’t tell her what was going on. Because I wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress,” Bertulocci said in the interview, which went viral in 2016.
Many celebrities had voiced their outrage on the resurfaced news on Twitter.
Earlier this year, Bertolucci had criticised fellow filmmaker Ridley Scott's decision to fire Kevin Spacey from "All the Money in the World" after the actor was accused of sexual assault by over a dozen men.
Bertolucci had said that when he came to know that Scott had agreed to erase all of Spaceys scenes in the film, he messaged the directors frequent editor Pietro Scalia, "to tell Scott that he should be ashamed."
The director had been confined to a wheelchair for over a decade, after surgery on a herniated disc in 2003 was unsuccessful and rendered him unable to walk.
Bertolucci received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2008 and was awarded an honorary Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2011.
The Cannes Festival called the director a "giant of Italian filmmaking, (who) will remain forever a leading light in world cinema".
Antonio Banderas tweeted, "Today leave us a great filmmaker, universal italian and master of filmmakers. thanks for so many talent! RIP Bernardo #Bertolucci"
The Venice Film Festival tweeted, "Paolo Baratta and La Biennale di Venezia mourn the passing of Bernardo Bertolucci, Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at #Venezia64 and President of the Jury (in 1983 and 2013). He will be remembered among the greatest masters of Italian and international cinema."
(WIth PTI Inputs)