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The Last Emperor (1987)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  15 April 1988 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 65,172 users   Metascore: 76/100
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The story of the final Emperor of China.


(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Won 9 Oscars. Another 45 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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


A dramatic history of Pu Yi, the last of the Emperors of China, from his lofty birth and brief reign in the Forbidden City, the object of worship by half a billion people; through his abdication, his decline and dissolute lifestyle; his exploitation by the invading Japanese, and finally to his obscure existence as just another peasant worker in the People's Republic. Written by Martin H. Booda <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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.


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

15 April 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El último emperador  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$23,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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


$43,984,230 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (television)

Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (70 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The first feature film granted permission by the Chinese government to be filmed in the Forbidden City. A documentary produced and directed by Lucy Jarvis for NBC Films Ltd. in 1973 named "The Forbidden City" was the first western film permitted to film within the Forbidden City. See more »


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 »


Pu Yi, at 15: Who is this George Washington?
Reginald Fleming 'R.J.' Johnston: A famous American, your majesty. A revolutionary general, the first American president.
Pu Yi, at 15: Ah, like Mr. Lenin in Russia?
Reginald Fleming 'R.J.' Johnston: Not quite.
Pu Yi, at 15: Does he have a car?
Reginald Fleming 'R.J.' Johnston: He lived a long time ago, your majesty.
Pu Yi, at 15: *I* want a car.
See more »


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

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User Reviews

An Oriental paradise that is wonderfully mastered to the screen.
21 March 1999 | by (Suffolk, Virginia) – See all my reviews

I guess I'm the only one who watched this from a worn out-of-print VHS copy. No matter what the quality, THE LAST EMPEROR is arguably among the best of the foreign pictures. The sights and sounds of The Forbidden City are sharp and beautifully screened right on with the provocative events that unfold the coming-of-age life of Pu Yi. It has plentiful moments including his romantic affairs with concubines and how he learns the way of the world as a child. His chronicle of a young emperor boy paints a colorful picture for the first half, only leading to more conflicting matters later, which is the most exciting part. Don't expect to see heads getting chopped off, like I thought would happen (unless you have the longer DVD version), but the intensity of the talk surrounding it sounds horrifying and true. Nevertheless, the dialogue is clearly mystical. Every minute is a feel-good breeze through crafty cinematic art, but it ends too fast, and the narration from Pu Yi in his prison term could use a lot more detailing. Maybe I'll stick around longer and wait to see the Director's Cut which has more. Definitely a winning treat not to be missed for foreign movie lovers and collectors of premium filmfare.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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