From ‘Last Tango’ to ‘Last Emperor,’ Bertolucci Was the First and Last of His Kind

  • Variety
From ‘Last Tango’ to ‘Last Emperor,’ Bertolucci Was the First and Last of His Kind
The year 2018 is shaping up to be a tragedy of epic proportions for lovers of world cinema. In April, Czech director Milos Forman passed away, and now, in late November, within a matter of days, we have lost avant garde maestro Nicolas Roeg and that great Italian iconoclast Bernardo Bertolucci.

Consider: Forman’s “Amadeus,” Roeg’s identity-shattering “Performance” (co-directed with Donald Cammell), and Bertolucci’s still unsurpassed exploration of moral ambiguity and personal compromise, “The Conformist.” The medium is inconceivable in its present form without these films, whose directors were hardly one-hit wonders, contributing masterpiece after masterpiece during the most fertile stretches of their careers. Though each had struggled to maintain his relevance in recent decades, any late-life disappointment seems inevitable when judged relative to the achievements that came before.

Of the three, Bertolucci was by far the most successful at sustaining his impact until the end, for his brand was controversy,
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