Bernardo Bertolucci was one of the first directors I encountered as a teenager who demonstrated to me that art shouldn’t have barriers; that no subject was off limits. He took this too far in his artistic life, forever changing how I thought about him, but you can’t turn away from your own history. You have to embrace the works that showed you something important, even as the people who made them disappoint you. I’ll never forget too-early viewings of “The Last Emperor” and “The Dreamers.” After I saw “The Conformist,” I felt like I was given a window into a parallel dimension even though the world it was describing was ours once, a nightmare as beautiful as it was harrowing. “The Spider’s Stratagem,” “La Luna,” “Before the Revolution,” “The Grim Reaper,” “Me and You”—to the very end, Bertolucci was fearless in his provocation and classical in his image creation. The world ran out of room for people like Bertolucci, which had to happen, but I still lament that I’ll never see another new work by the man.
To watch more of Scout Tafoya’s video essays from his series The Unloved, click here.