ESSENTIAL

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Forty years (!) after its release, after a deluge of explicit pornography has washed across and nearly drowned our culture, this film has lost its capacity to shock as it once shocked, with its sexual frankness embedded a well-made film starring a Hollywood icon.

What still startles and unsettles is the emotional nakedness of the performances by Brando and Schneider, the conceptual daring of Bertollucci, questioning the very possibility of portraying an authentic and humane erotic love in movies . . . assuming such a thing is even possible anymore in real life, perverted as real life has become by the diseased clichés of movies.

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It’s one of the most interesting, not to mention one of the greatest, films ever made, and one of the most beautifully shot — which is why it joins that list of films which justify buying a Blu-ray player just to be able to watch it in that format.

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