The body of celebrated Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci has been pictured in an open coffin in Rome just 24 hours after his death at the age of 77 on Monday.
Stirring images showed mourners gathering to pay their respects at his casket on Tuesday after it was placed in a church on Rome’s Capitol Hill earlier in the day.
The Oscar-winning film-maker, whose accolades include controversial 1972 drama Last Tango In Paris, passed away in Rome surrounded by friends and family following a battle with cancer, his publicist confirmed on Monday.
Bertolucci had been out of the public eye for more several years after unsuccessful surgery on a herniated disc in 2003 left him confined to a wheelchair.
The open coffin of Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci is seen at Rome’s Capitol Hill on Tuesday
Earlier in the day on Tuesday Bertolucci’s coffin was carried into a church in Rome’s Capitol Hill
Tragic: Celebrated Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci died aged 77, his publicist confirmed on Monday
His last film, Me and You, premiered at the 65th Cannes Film Festival in 2012.
The director enjoyed a hugely successful career, during which he won two Academy Awards for directing and co-writing 1988 biographical drama The Last Emperor.
But it was his work with Hollywood star Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider on the provocative Last Tango in Paris that would win Bertolucci notoriety due to its lurid depictions of sex.
Mourners have been flocking to the church to pay their last respects to the renowned director
Droves of people could be seen filing past his coffin on Tuesday afternoon as he lay in state
Much of the film’s controversy centered on the suggestion of anal rape, with Brando’s character – expatriate hotel owner Paul – using butter as a lubricant in one of its most notorious scenes.
The movie was banned in Italy just after its release in 1972, and was not released again until 1987. The case went back and forth in the courts until the high criminal court banned the film in 1976 and ordered all copies confiscated and destroyed.
Bertolucci, Brando and Schneider, as well as the producer Alberto Grimaldi, were sentenced to two months in jail and a fine of $40 each – although the jail terms were suspended.
Surgery: Bertolucci had been out of the public eye for more several years after unsuccessful surgery on a herniated disc in 2003 left him confined to a wheelchair
Bertolucci, a self-professed Marxist, also did not shy away from politics and ideology, as in The Conformist, which some critics consider his masterpiece.
Despite working with A-list international stars, the director always defended his own filmmaking style against what he said was the pressure of the US film industry.
‘When it comes to commercial cinema, I have the strange pleasure of feeling that I’m from another tribe, an infiltrator,’ he told Italian daily Corriere della Sera in 1990.
He was honored for lifetime achievement at the Cannes film festival in 2011.
Success: Bertolucci won two Oscars at the 60th Annual Academy Awards for his work on The Last Emperor
Bertolucci’s movies also bore the imprint of the director’s own experiences in psychoanalysis. He always said that making films was his way of communicating with the audience.
‘Maybe I’m an idealist, but I still think of the movie theater as a cathedral where we all go together to dream the dream together,’ he said upon receiving an award from the Director’s Guild of America for The Last Emperor.
That movie handed Bertolucci his greatest success. In 1988 it won all the nine Academy Awards that it had been nominated for – including best movie and best director.
Outrage: Last Tango In Paris was banned in Italy just after its release in 1972, and was not released again until 1987
Bertolucci was married to the English writer and director Clare Peploe. They had no children.
Peploe is the sister of Mark Peploe, a screenwriter and close friend of Bertolucci’s who worked with the director on a number of projects.
It’s understood that funeral plans are not yet finalized but that it expects a ceremony in the next few days.
Insight: Bertolucci’s movies also bore the imprint of the director’s own experiences in psychoanalysis