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US brake on Bertolucci’s Dreamers

Venice, Sept. 1 (Reuters): Bernardo Bertolucci, who shocked the world with his erotic Last Tango in Paris 30 years ago, is at it again in his new film which will have to be edited before its US release, the Italian director said today.

The Dreamers, a film about sexual awakening in France in 1968, has scenes of explicit sex and flirts with incest.

“The film risks coming out amputated, mutilated in the US,” Bertolucci said in Venice, where The Dreamers staged its world premier as part of the 60th annual film festival here.

“We must however hand over the film according to our contract, so there is a strong likelihood it will come out in a different way than it will be seen in rest of world,” he said, explaining that Fox Searchlight has demanded cuts so that it can garner an “R” rating as promised in the contract.

The film depicts a menage a trois among a young American exchange student and a French brother and sister, who shut themselves in their family’s home while their parents are away.

Some of the more taboo scenes include the siblings caressing and kissing each other, the three frolicking in a bathtub together and the girl’s loss of virginity on the kitchen floor while her brother fries eggs.

But 2003 is a far cry from 1972 when Tango burst on to the scene, and despite its risque sexual scenes, a long-hyped scandal has not materialised in the lagoon city.

“I heard that the film has been received with some controversy. Perhaps less so than I expected or wanted,” Bertolucci chuckled.

Ironically, its world debut has been in Italy, which banned Last Tango in Paris for years even as the US embraced the sexually explosive and violent movie. Now America is proving the most conservative audience, he said.

The Dreamers stars American Michael Pitt, who has appeared in offbeat movies like Hedwig and the Angry Inch about a drag queen rocker, and French newcomers Eva Green and Louis Garrel.

It marks a return to erotica for Bertolucci, who more recently has directed movies such as the Oscar-winning epic The Last Emperor set in China and the acclaimed Stealing Beauty about a more subtle sexual awakening in the Tuscan countryside.

In a reflection of Bertolucci’s own youth, the movie is set against the 1968 student riots in Paris and is steeped in film references.

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