The Last Emperor (1987)

PG-13   |    |  Biography, Drama, History


The Last Emperor (1987) Poster

The story of the final Emperor of China.


7.7/10
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  • Bernardo Bertolucci in The Last Emperor (1987)
  • Bernardo Bertolucci in The Last Emperor (1987)
  • Bernardo Bertolucci in The Last Emperor (1987)
  • Bernardo Bertolucci and Jeremy Thomas in The Last Emperor (1987)
  • The Last Emperor (1987)
  • Bernardo Bertolucci in The Last Emperor (1987)

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16 April 2006 | StanleyStrangelove
10
| A great artistic achievement
Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Last Emperor" is a monumental, perfect film, and stands as one of the great artistic achievements in any artistic medium.

Told in a complicated flashback/ flash-forward style, it's the story of Pu Yi (born 1906) who was the last absolute monarch of China. During his lifetime he falls from the Lord of Ten Thousand Years, the emperor/God of billions of Chinese, to an anonymous peasant worker in communist China.

Pu Yi was the child emperor from 1908 until the Chinese revolution in 1911 when he had to abdicate. He was allowed to remain in the Forbidden City but was stripped of his power by the communists. He was expelled from the city in 1924 by a warlord. In 1932, Puyi was installed by the Japanese as the ruler of Manchukuo, a puppet state of Imperial Japan. At the end of World War II, Pu yi was captured by the Soviet Red Army and turned over to the Chinese communists. Considered a traitor, he spent ten years in a reeducation camp until he was declared reformed. He voiced his support for the Communists and worked at the Beijing Botanical Gardens.

This film vividly portrays the change from the imperial and religious traditions of ancient China to the godless totalitarianism of modern communist China, so the film is, on one level, the story of China's revolutionary transition from imperialism to communism.

Visually the film is stunning especially the scenes in the Forbidden City. It was the first film to receive permission to film in the Forbidden City.

The film can be enjoyed on the first viewing but really demands more than one viewing and some knowledge of history. In this respect it resembles Akira Kurasawa's masterpiece "The Seven Samurai.

The cast includes John Lone as emperor Pu Yi, Joan Chen, and Peter O'Toole.

The film won 9 Oscars including best director and best film. A must see on DVD widescreen or in the theater.

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