MGM Home Entertainment
Cast: Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider
Extras: Theatrical Trailer
It is interesting to know so much and so very little about a film. One of the perks of reviewing home media, especially after a company it trying to solidify its catalogue on a relatively new format, is the opportunity to visit some older films that may have been passed over for one reason or another. "Last Tango In Paris" is one of those titles for me. Though I am familiar with both Director Bernardo Bertolucci and Actor Marlon Brando, their collaboration on this infamous 1972 film with a then 'X' rating never got an opportunity to take a spin in my DVD player. With Blu-ray, I have now changed that.
Paul (Marlon Brando) is an American in Paris. He lives in a seedy hotel with his French wife, but things are changing in his world. As the film opens, Paul is obviously devastated. It is soon revealed that his wife has committed suicide on the very day that viewers are introduced to his world. He crosses paths with a young, free spirited French woman named Jeanne (Maria Schneider). She is out looking for a place to live and ends up in one of the rooms with Paul. The two end up having sex, but with a twist. Being at opposite ends of the spectrum, both in life and in love, this encounter could easily be described as consensual rape (an oxymoron, I know but that's kind of how it plays out). The two agree to meet in the room and carry on a relationship. No names, no stories, no information – just a physical relationship founded on the oddity of their first encounter. When Jeanne announces that she is engaged to marry an offbeat filmmaker named Tom (Jean-Pierre Léaud), the raw intensity of her relationship with Paul begins to define itself and show just how far apart these two may actually be.
Many may be aware of "Last Tango In Paris" because of its now NC-17 rating and the sex scenes in the film. There is no reason one should seek out the movie for that reason alone. These scenes aren't erotic, but they are raw. Paul is a devastated man whose cheating wife took the easy road out by ending her life. This has left Paul scarred with confusion and guilt. Jeanne, while attractive with her wide eyed view of the world and beautiful body is on the cusp of marriage. Her filmmaker fiancé is documenting their lives, which shows viewers that she a) doesn't seem to have much experience in the world and b) may be living a 'fake' life since her man seems to play everything up for the camera. When Paul and Jeanne come together, the sex is a result of these two worlds colliding. Paul is forceful and obviously trying to work out some deep seeded issues while Jeanne seems to just let things happen for the sake of an experience. I refer to it a consensual rape, because of the way the two interact. It seems that Jeanne welcomes this animalistic relationship because she wants to have something real in her life – regardless of how it is delivered. The relationship is devastating as the two attempt to shut out the real world, oblivious to the fact that they are forcing themselves to face the very emotions they are attempting to run from. The end result is a far cry from ecstasy.
MGM has delivered this classic film with a 1080p AVC encoded transfer in the OAR of 1.85:1. The picture has a very soft, natural feel that really delivers a film-like quality to high definition sets. Outside of some occasional specks and a hair-like blemish early in the bottom right corner of the film, the quality of this 1972 classic is outstanding. It seems that MGM left all of the digital tinkering out and just went with a damn fine print of the film. Black levels are spot on, flesh tones are accurate and all of the earthy tones come across beautifully onscreen. This is easily one of the most natural presentations I have seen on the format.
The DTS-HD 2.0 track also complements the film well. MGM seems to be sticking with their guns to present the most accurate screening possible for "Last Tango In Paris" and this should please purists everywhere. Gato Barberi's score comes across very bold in the front field and demands attention. The dialogue can be hit and miss at times though. While most of the film (which alternates between French and English quite often) has decent dialogue levels, there are moments where it is hard to understand what is being said. While characters are speaking French, this isn't much of an issue since there are easy to read white subtitles assisting, but it can be frustrating during some of the English speaking scenes. Keep in mind, this happens very little throughout the 129-minute runtime, so don't let the nitpicking keep you from the film.
Outside of the 1080p Theatrical Trailer for the film, there are no supplements on this disc.
"Last Tango In Paris" is a challenging film that will lure fans in with a rare NC-17 rating and leave them a bit perplexed. Bernardo Bertolucci's tale isn't trying to stimulate anything but the mind of those who sit down to watch this psychosexual film. The lack of extra features should not be a turn off to anyone as MGM has delivered a very natural viewing experience with this Blu-ray. Those who have not yet seen the film owe it a rental at the very least.