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One of my favorite films is the 1972 French drama “Last Tango In Paris.” First saw it during the early 90s on VHS. I currently own the DVD.

The plot grabbed my interest. Marlo Brando technically had the starring role of this movie. Truth be told, I never did care for Brando. Personally I believe the real “star” was a young actress known as Maria Schneider. To quote film critic Roger Ebert: “Maria Schneider doesn’t seem to act her role so much as to exude it.”

Basically it comes to this: Marlo Brando more or less portrayed himself, while Schneider mixed innocence with raw sexuality.

This controversial flick more or less internationally defined Maria Schneider as an actress. Brando continued being what he did best, which was being Brando. Meanwhile, Schneider acted in a few more flicks before real-life drama eclipsed her for the rest of the 1970s. The 80s decade treated her a bit better, as she made a comeback in her native country. In later interviews, she would claim that “Last Tango In Paris” nearly ruined her life.

Maria Schneider died on Feb. 3rd, 2011. Director of “Tango,” Bernardo Bertolucci said this*: “Her death has come too early, before I could give her a tender embrace and tell her that I was as tied to her as I was at the start and apologize to her at least once. The strong and creative relationship that we had during the filming of ‘Last Tango’ became poisoned with the passing of time. Maria accused me of having robbed her of her youth and only today am I wondering whether there wasn’t some truth to that.”

After hearing of her passing, I did this portrait of her. Done in pen & ink, on illustration board. Quill pen, nib either 102 or 104.

Maria Schneider & Joe Dallesandro in Jacques Rivette's film "Merry Go Round." Photo: Photo: Des Filles des Garçons

*Full Roger Ebert quote can be found here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/feb/03/maria-schneider-obituary?INTCMP=SRCH
*Full Bernardo Bertolucci quote can be found here: http://www.france24.com/en/20110203-bertolucci-wanted-say-sorry-last-tango-paris
*Interview with film critic Roger Ebert from 1974: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19750914/PEOPLE/509140301
*http://www.altfg.com/blog/movie/maria-schneider-memoirs-of-a-french-whore-a-woman-like-eve/

 

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