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The Last Emperor (1987)

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The story of the final Emperor of China.

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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3,726 ( 114)
Won 9 Oscars. Another 47 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Ruocheng Ying ...
The Governor (as Ying Ruocheng)
...
Dennis Dun ...
...
Amakasu (as Ryûichi Sakamoto)
Maggie Han ...
...
...
Wen Hsiu (as Wu Jun Mei)
...
Chang (as Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa)
Jade Go ...
Fumihiko Ikeda ...
...
Tsou Tijger ...
Pu Yi - 8 Years (as Tijger Tsou)
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Storyline

This sweeping account of the life of Pu-Yi, the last emperor of China, follows the leader's tumultuous reign. After being captured by the Red Army as a war criminal in 1950, Pu-Yi recalls his childhood from prison. He remembers his lavish youth in the Forbidden City, where he was afforded every luxury but unfortunately sheltered from the outside world and complex political situation surrounding him. As revolution sweeps through China, the world Pu-Yi knew is dramatically upended. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He was the Lord of Ten Thousand Years, the absolute monarch of China. He was born to rule a world of ancient tradition. Nothing prepared him for our world of change.


Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

| | |

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

15 April 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El último emperador  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$23,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$21,105 (USA) (27 November 1998)

Gross:

$43,984,230 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (television)

Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (70 mm prints)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to director of photography Vittorio Storaro in Visions of Light (1992), he used the phases of light to represent different stages of the emperor's life. Red, the color of the blood that starts the flashback and the opening doors it cuts to, represents birth. Orange is the warm color of his family and the forbidden city. Yellow is the color of the emperor's identity and the sun. Green, the color of the tutor's bike and hat, represents knowledge. The forbidden city only has the first three colors because it is a limited portion of reality. See more »

Goofs

The tour guide at the end of the film says that Pu Yi was 3 years old at his coronation. Henry Pu-yi was born Feb. 7, 1906 and invested Nov. 14, 1908, aged 2 years 10 months. However, the guide was likely using the Chinese age system, in which a person is automatically aged "1" when born. See more »

Quotes

The Governor: [bidding farewell to Pu Yi as he is released from reform camp] You see, I will end up living in prison longer than you!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Writing with Light: Vittorio Storaro (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Auld Lang Syne
(uncredited)
Traditional Scottish ballad
In the score when Johnston says farewell to Pu Yi
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A great artistic achievement
16 April 2006 | by (Portland, Oregon US) – See all my reviews

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.


32 of 36 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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