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Last Tango In Paris

By on Jan 25, 2014 in Movie Reviews | 2 comments

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Last night I watched Last Tango in Paris with Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider. Wow, is she beautiful. Women in the movies were bimbo’s back then, the year was 1973, and Marlon’s character, Paul, is the character he has always played. He’s the consummate method actor. He’s come to define the term. He’s a tough guy, a guy who presumably “something” has happened to, a guy with so much anger and frustration in him it would boil over occasionally. In those days this type was thought of as deep and interesting. We thought Marlon Brando was interesting and intelligent. Was he? I guess I need a man who can express himself. This inability to use language seems primitive and boring to me. He couldn’t explain the feeling within him so he just erupted occasionally. Sometimes people got hurt but it was okay, permissible. The same behavior in a female character would have been seen as hysterical. Poor Jeanne, Maria Schneider, allows him to essentially rape her. The shadow energy, the dangerous energy, in him fascinates her. Why? Presumably, or so the critics tell me, because she senses the need in him. In other words her feminine motherly nature responds to him. She wants for him to approve of her. Why. Just because she’s young, I think. Throughout the movie he threatens her with barely concealed violence and she’s on the edge of leaving him several times. Something always draws her back. What is it, a subliminal desire to be dominated? What message did this movie send? I’ve written a poem, not a poem really but a rhyme, a nursery rhyme of sorts that I want to share. I’ve come to the conclusion that the bimbo part of my self-analysis can only be overcome by the image of a female God.

I’m afraid. I’m afraid to talk about the Goddess. God, the big patriarchal male God will strike me down for my impudence. But why, is it really impudent? Men are made in the likeness of God. I want to be made in the likeness of God too. What is so wrong with that? My father told me I’d never be happy if I didn’t accept the fact that I was a woman and by woman he meant a lesser being. He was right in a sense, a really big sense. Now, the here and now kind of now, I’m happy. I’m happy but not completely. I want to be God, not really God but the likeness of God. There’s something like that in the Catechism. Help me, God. Help me. Let me exist in your likeness. I was writing a poem but I forgot a letter. How could I do that?

She looks like me

God, God, you’ve hidden me,

God with and “G” and an “o” and a “d”

God, God, assemble me.

God, God, double the “d”

Double the “d” and add an “e”

God, God, I’m almost free

God, God, I need an “s”

To save me from ungodliness

God, God add an “s”

Add the “e” and double the “s”

Double the “s” for “ess”

God, God, now all can see.

All can see quite easily.

The Goddess, The Goddess,

She looks like me.

Silly, huh. It’s more of a nursery rhyme than a poem. I need God. It’s only that I need a Goddess too. I need someone who looks like me. I need someone who has hips and breasts and great “instinct”, not a left-brained masculine God. The ending “Goddess, Goddess, Looks like me” is weak. It doesn’t run as strong as the rest of it.  That’s because God is a single syllable which means it can sound like the slam of a hammer. The first line “God, God, you’ve hidden me”, slams twice. The word Goddess is a distinctly feminine word. It’s the “ess” ending. The linguistically acceptable way to change a male word into a female word is to add “ess “as in heir, heiress, Jew, Jewess, baron, baroness. The problem is that, although it works, we all understand what is meant when the “ess” is added. It is still a male word being adjusted to be a female word. It isn’t a stand-alone word and that’s important, the stand alone part. I wish there was another word for Goddess. Maybe I just need to think about it differently. In the beginning there was the Goddess. That’s true, right? The Goddess came first. Then the patriarchal male tribes came and changed things to their liking. But, what did they do? They took away from the Goddess. They took away the “dess” and made the word male. So really, maybe it’s the stealing of that “dess” that is the problem. I’ll have to write a poem about the rape of the “dess”.


Where did they put the “d-e-s-s”

They added an r and made it a dress

to cover me up

and hide my shame

the shame of my ungodliness

and now it’s baron not baroness

and now it’s lion not lioness.

They messed with my name

My identity

But now, since it’s a democracy

We need an amendment to

the moral constitution.

That’ll  never happen.

They won’t even pass the equal rights amendment. I’m thinking about how they changed Social Security back in 1973, the same year Last Tango In Paris was made incidentally. People making over a certain amount, over whatever, it keeps changing. don’t have to pay Social Security Tax. Who does that benefit? The rich, of course. They said that was because the richer people had already paid in everything they could take out when they retired. That was false thinking back then and it’s false thinking now.


The word bimbo comes from bambino, Italian word for child. Bimbo was a word of the age, the 70s. It meant an attractive woman who was stupid and trusting. I wasn’t trusting but I pretended to trust. I pretended to believe. Life was a fairytale. There was always an annoying titter titter element going on in the background. Anyway, there were a lot of bimbos in the movies then, Marilyn Monroe, Raquel Welsh, Ursula Andress, Jayne Mansfield, Gina Lollabrigita, and Brigitte Bardot. Things changed a little in the 70’s. Big shoulders came in. The bimbos were getting a little bit more intelligent. They used their looks. Other’s didn’t use them. Re: Farrah Fawcett, Bo Derek, Dyan Cannon,  and Loni Anderson.

So Maria Schneider as Jeanne in the movie is a bimbo. One of the opening, defining, scenes is of Paul in his rooms. There is a woman, a pretty young woman, cleaning the bathroom where Paul’s wife allegedly committed suicide. There is blood all over even on the whitish plastic shower curtain. There is the sound of water running. Paul yells for her to turn the tap off. He yells several times and the viewer is conscious of danger, perhaps danger to the girl. We don’t know who she is. Then we learn that Paul’s wife committed suicide but did she? From Paul’s behavior he may have done it, I mean killed her. Then he meets Jeanne in the apartment. Why is he at the apartment? He is a shadow lurking in the background. She likes the apartment, seems determined to like it. She throws open the window. We have seen her first in her short skirt showing an incredible amount of leg. She looks very cute, mod, innocent, sweet, spoiled, with her cute little hat and her coat with a feather boa. Paul won’t speak and this continues throughout the movie. He remains hidden. In the first scene, there is a big pile of stuff, presumably furniture, in the room off the main one. They comment on it. I think Paul comments that the last tenants left it. It is like old baggage representing I guess the emotional baggage we humans carry around with us and it’s hidden, in this case covered by a sheet. He essentially rapes her but she is accepting, acquiescent really. She allows him to rape her then she goes off to meet her boyfriend who adores her. He wants to be with her every hour of the day.

Other thoughts. Paul also yells and threatens his mother in law who is afraid of him. He tells her that she is afraid and is disgusted that she is afraid. It annoys him. The acquiescence, the gentleness of these women enrages him. Paul in the end can’t believe that Jeanne doesn’t want to marry him. He offers his true self and she rejects him. She preferred the mystery man. Then she could play with danger. But she has a clear choice, the boring adoring boyfriend or violent Paul. But this is her last tango with Paul. She takes the boyfriend to the apartment where she had her trist with Paul but he doesn’t like it. He says it’s shoddy and he’s right. Who is that woman downstairs? the one who has the keys to the apartment? The apartment stands for more than a place to stay. The key is missing. Paul took it. The woman laughs at the girl. She sees her innocence and knows evil will come.

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  1. Cathy

    January 25, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Hey this is great — I love the way the poem comes up and then gets redone — such a cool rhetorical trick and so unusual in a movie review, I love it. Lots of interesting thinking throughout about how the movie fits into gender assumptions historically.

    Looking forward to reading more! You are posting a bunch, I didn’t realize — I will have to catch up asap!

    • hannahpowers

      January 26, 2014

      Post a Reply

      It was emotional, not really a proper review, like most of my stuff. The historical gender assumptions exist in both sexes but it’s stronger for the female. God can’t have given one person both beauty and brains. It would be unfair. Add in muscle. More muscle means fewer brains, right? Thanks for your comment and thanks for reading.

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