Bernardo Bertolucci, Oscar-Winning Italian Director of 'The Last Emperor,' Dies at 77

Bernardo Bertolucci
Jack Mitchell/Getty Images

Bernardo Bertolucci photographed in 1979.

Bernardo Bertolucci, the Italian director and screenwriter whose films include Last Tango in Paris and The Last Emperor, for which he won the Academy Award for best director and best adapted screenplay, has died in Rome. He was 77.

He became known for movies with a colorful visual style and political films.

La Repubblica and other Italian newspapers first reported his death on Monday morning.

In 1962, at the age of 22, he directed his first feature film, La commare secca, a murder mystery about a prostitute's homicide that uses flashbacks to piece together the crime.

In 1987, Bertolucci directed the epic The Last Emperor, a biographical film about the life of Aisin-Gioro Puyi, the last Emperor of China.   

At the 60th Academy Awards, the film won all nine Oscars for which it was nominated: best picture, director, writing, adapted screenplay, cinematography, film editing, costume design, art direction-set decoration, music, original score and sound.

The Last Emperor was the first Western film made in China and about the country to be produced with full Chinese government cooperation since 1949. It was also the first feature film ever authorized by the government of the People's Republic of China to film in the Forbidden City. It became

Last Tango in Paris, another one of his best-known films, caused debate as it was about a recently widowed American who begins an anonymous sexual relationship with a young Parisian woman. It stars Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider, and Jean-Pierre Leaud.

Bertolucci, a professed Marxist, also got a reputation for making political films. The Conformist from 1970 criticized conformism and fascism, while 1900 (1976) focused on the political conflicts between fascism and communism in Italy during the first half of the 20th century. The latter starred Robert De Niro, Gerard Depardieu, Donald Sutherland and Burt Lancaster, among others.

Bertolucci was married, since 1979, to British screenwriter Clare Peploe.


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