THE BUTTER SCENE (2021)
Performers: Tara Morice and William Zappa
Writer and Director: Kate Blackmore
Producer: Bethany Bruce
Cinematographer: Meg White
Production and Costume Designer: Tess Strelein
Editor: Kate Blackmore
Composer: Damien Ricketson
Sound Designer: Bob Scott
Casting Director: Stevie Ray CGA
Duration: 7 mins 25 secs
Commissioned by Cement Fondu as part of ‘Textbook for Desire’ (2021), an exhibition curated by Megan Monte and Josephine Skinner; and assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.
The Butter Scene applies a critical feminist lens onto one of cinema’s most controversial rape scenes, the ‘butter scene’ from Bernardo Bertolucci’s film, Last Tango in Paris (1972). Starring a forty-eight-year-old Marlon Brando and a nineteen-year-old Maria Schneider, it is now known that the filming of that scene involved actual, real life abuse. In a 2007 interview, four years before her death, Schneider discussed the scene in detail, saying that it wasn’t in the script and that it was imposed upon her at the last minute. This was no accident on Bertolucci’s part. In 2013 he said, “I’ve been, in a way, horrible to Maria, because I didn’t tell her what was going on, because I wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress.” In Blackmore’s film, actors perform these interviews as separate soliloquies that are edited together to form a dialogue. In doing so, the work honours Maria’s experience of the scene and the toll it took on her life, whilst also exposing the murky territory between artistic exploration and exploitation in the cinematic image.