Bernardo Bertolucci, the Italian director famous for movies such as “Last Tango in Paris” and “The Last Emperor”, has died at 77, Italian media reported on Monday.
Bertolucci had been ill and died at his home in Rome, media reports said.
Considered as one of the giants of Italian and world cinema, he won an honorary Palme d’Or for his life’s work at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
Bertolucci was the only Italian ever to win the Oscar for best film, snapping up the award in 1988 for “The Last Emperor”.
The biographical masterpiece about the last Chinese emperor won a total of nine Oscars, all of those for which it was nominated.
But he acquired notoriety for his 1972 erotic drama “Last Tango In Paris” starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider which featured a controversial rape scene.
Born in Parma, northeastern Italy, in 1941, Bertolucci made films that were often highly politicised, dealing with workers’ struggles in “1900” or the fate of left-wingers in fascist Italy in “The Conformist”.
Bertolucci frequently courted controversy, not just with his films.
This year he said that director Ridley Scott should be “ashamed” for replacing Kevin Spacey in a film after the actor was accused of sexual assaults against multiple men.
Bertolucci also helped organise a petition against the extradition of Roman Polanski to face rape charges in the United States in 2009.
He however said that he supported the #MeToo movement, which he praised for “bringing awareness to violence against women around the world”.
When asked in 2013 how he would like to be remembered, Bertolucci told AFP: “I don’t care.”
“I think my movies are there, people can see them,” he said at a presentation of a 3D version of “The Last Emperor” to mark the 25th anniversary of its international release.
“And sometimes I laugh, thinking I will be remembered more as a talent scout of young girls than as a film director,” he said.