In Memory of Maria Schneider

1952–2011

Maria Schneider, the female lead in two of my all-time favorite films, Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris (1972) and Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger (1975), died yesterday from cancer. This depresses me quite a bit, actually—Schneider was a tremendous actor who never really got the credit she deserved for her remarkable performances in each of those classic films. Anyone who can hold her own against Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson (and at such a young age, and in a second language, and in such difficult filming conditions) is obviously insanely talented. Roger Ebert, in his 2004 reconsideration of Last Tango, said it very well:

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Two-Lane Blacktop

After college, a friend and I went on a tear, spending our weekends watching everything we could find by Godard, Bergman, Tarkovsky, Kurosawa, others. My friend’s father, a former cinephile who’d seen many of these movies during their initial US releases, occasionally poked his head into the living room, watching a few minutes here and there with us. Then he’d smile and leave, always quietly pronouncing, “It’s good, but it’s no Two-Lane Blacktop.”

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