We revisit an interview with the visionary director from AnOther Magazine A/W13, following his death at the age of 77
“I didn’t travel for a long time. Being in my wheelchair, I thought I was finished. No more films. The moment I accepted my new state – ‘OK, I am in a wheelchair and I’ll be here forever’ – it changed my life. I have since made a film, and I think that I’m able to travel again. I have been travelling all my life with my movies. India and Nepal, Algeria and Niger. You know what the difference is between a tourist and a traveller? This is something I learned when we were doing The Sheltering Sky in Morocco. A tourist gets to the place he wants to go and comes back. The traveller gets there but he wants to go on and on and on. I love surprises. And when you are away you get surprises all the time. I’m sad for the youth of today because they see so much on TV. They’ve seen every possible place on earth.”
“I was too busy with my back,” the 73-year-old director chuckles wryly on the phone from his home in Rome. He’s talking about the failed surgery on his back that confined him to what he jokingly calls his “electric chair”. The injury forced him to take a nine-year hiatus between filming 2003’s The Dreamers and the recent Me and You, the story of a brother and his half-sister stuck in a basement for a week. A legend of European arthouse cinema, Bernardo Bertolucci has been behind the camera since he was 21. His obsession is not to repeat himself. And he never has, with films as varied as Last Tango in Paris, The Conformist and The Last Emperor. He appears in front of the camera in new documentary, Bertolucci on Bertolucci by Luca Guadagnino, director of I Am Love, who is himself part of a new generation of Italian auteurs indebted to the master. “Young people are in progress,” muses Bertolucci. “I see a lot of beauty in youth.”
This article originally appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2013 issue of AnOther Magazine.