In Last Tango there is a quite plain idea—it’s very nearly a film with a message: sex as an instrument of power divorced from tenderness or curiosity results in chaos and despair.
Last Tango in Paris (1972)
What is particularly striking about the film, once we get over the sight of Marlon Brando performing anal sex, is that it is, in disguise, the most political of Bertolucci’s films so far—his most ambitious attempt to integrate Marx and Freud.
Last Tango in Paris is an important film because of the way it deals with film history. By showing the inadequacy of and parodying two recent influential film styles, 1950s Hollywood and French New Wave, Bertolucci critiques and condemns the outmoded ideas and attitudes which informed these styles.
In this review of Last Tango in Paris, Norman Mailer offers an extensive critique of Bertolucci’s film on the basis of Marlon Brando’s compromised acting.
The following review, one of the most renowned in the history of film criticism, appeared in The New Yorker magazine on October 28, 1972
by Bosley Crowther The vast attention that Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris received while it was several months in the making and when it