Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Say 'No!' to Marmite™

And say 'No!' to peanut butter, too, for reasons that will become apparent after having read this entry.

Recently, whilst watching Last Tango in Paris (1973, original title: Ultimo Tango a Parigi), I came to a threefold realisation. A mental triptych of revelation, to put it in pompous words.

Firstly, I realised that no-one has ever seen the whole movie since its first Film Festival Run and original release. Because of the word-of-mouth nature of the film's success, audiences simply went into the cinema to watch the one memorable scene (involving sodomy and butter, a tantalising mélange) and swiftly walked out, assuming the rest of the film to be merely an anthology of bland trailers advertising pointless European films starring the late Marlon Brando. Nowadays, all modern audiences get to see of it is its infamous sex scene in mind-numbing, time-filling shows with names such as The Greatest Movie Scenes of All Time, Hollywoody: The 100 Best Sex Scenes of the 20th Century, and/or The Censor's Wet-Dream: Dirty Shoots and Filthy Shots. Thus, I have been the first individual to watch the whole damn thing since the early 70s. And, trust me, it's overrated.

Secondly, I understood why Bernardo Bertolucci's previous pitches of the film with Hollywood producers had failed so miserably, the reason being the film's earlier -tentative, so to speak- titles: Last Waltz in Berlin (confusing), Penultimate Mambo in Reykjavík (confused), Antepenultimate Morris Dance in Caracas (confusing and confused), and Fourth from Last Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina (a bit dull, really), to mention but a few. All of them lacked the exquisite punch of the final version.

Finally, as I learnt from a DVD sub-menu unimaginatively entitled "Deleted Scenes," Marlon Brando (being the Method Actor he was) envisaged his character preferring peanut butter, rather than plain butter. See, Method Actors don't act, they do, actually do whatever is written in the script. I know, I know, technically they aren't even actors, but there's enough material there for a different blog entry. In any case, when the time came to shoot the scene for the first time, Marlon Brando lubricated himself and Maria Schneider with peanut butter, failing to realise it was of the Crunchy kind. Due to its nutty chunks, this type of peanut butter if favoured by children all around the world, but -for obvious reasons- it is not the most popular of sexual lubricants in today's worldwide market. You could almost see -or, perhaps, imagine- little tears in the corners of Maria Schneider's eyes, yet -being the professional she was- she waited for Bernardo Bertolucci to cry "Cut!"

"Ouch," she can be heard saying in the background.

I thoroughly recommend the Director's Cut DVD version of the film, full of Easter Eggs, Peanut Butter, Pointless Trivia, and nonsensical documentaries that were created at the very last minute, so they'd be able to justify the unduly steep price.

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