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Bernardo Bertolucci's 'The Dreamers'

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Bernardo Bertolucci's 'The Dreamers'

Bernardo Bertolucci's 'The Dreamers'

Decades After Brando's X-Rated Romp, a New Look at Sex, Politics

Bernardo Bertolucci's 'The Dreamers'

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Web Extra: Hear an Extended Version of Bertolucci's Interview with NPR's Madeleine Brand

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Bernardo Bertolucci on the set of The Dreamers. © Twentieth Century Fox hide caption

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© Twentieth Century Fox

More than 30 years ago, a film called Last Tango in Paris became one of the first X-rated Hollywood "art" films to make it to mainstream American movie theaters.

It also became one of the last — the X rating was quickly taken over by explicit adult movies, and sexually frank films aimed at a mature audience disappeared from U.S. screens for years, until the advent of the NC-17 rating.

The director of Last Tango in Paris, Bernardo Bertolucci, went on to direct such acclaimed films as The Last Emperor and The Sheltering Sky. Now he's returned with a new film, The Dreamers, and he again pushes the ratings envelope with the film's explicit sexual content.

The three young people at the center of The Dreamers explore love, politics and cinema amid the 1968 Paris student riots. NPR's Madeleine Brand talks with Bertolucci about the themes of the film — and his battles with America's film rating system.