© AFP file photo | Bertolucci was the first recipient of the Cannes Film Festival's Honorary Palme d'Or Award.
Bernardo Bertolucci, the Italian director of seminal classics including “The Conformist”, “The Last Emperor” and the controversial “Last Tango in Paris”, has died at 77, local media said Monday, hailing the “last great maestro” of Italian cinema.
The revered filmmaker died at his home in Rome after a long illness, the media reports said.
Born in Parma, northeastern Italy, in 1941, the director had been confined to a wheelchair for the past few years.
The first recipient of the Cannes Film Festival's Honorary Palme d'Or, awarded in 2011, Bertolucci was considered one of the giants of Italian and world cinema.
His films include "The Conformist" (1970), "1900" (1976), "The Last Emperor" (1987) – which won him an Oscar for Best Director –, "Stealing Beauty" (1996) and "The Dreamers" (2003).
"The Last Emperor", his biographical masterpiece about the last Chinese emperor, won a total of nine Oscars, all of those for which it was nominated.
Bertolucci, however, is best remembered for the sexually explosive "Last Tango in Paris", starring Marlon Brando, which has continued to stir controversy since its release in 1972.
The Italian director was criticised over the years for revealing that he withheld details of the film's infamous butter rape scene from actress Maria Schneider, who was 19 at the time.