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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 <email@example.com>
Jeremy Thomas managed to raise the $25 million budget for his independent production single-handedly. See more »
At the time when he next sees his mother, Henry Pu-yi says, "My mother has not seen me for seven years." That would make the year 1915, but it is wrong. He should say, "My mother has not seen me for four years," which makes the year 1912. In the spring of 1912, the new republican government divided the Forbidden City by constructing a wall, thus restricting the emperor's domain. Assuming that it is that dividing wall on which Pu Yi and Pu Chieh climb, one must reasonably assume that, since the wall is clearly under construction, the date is mid-1912 at the latest. If so, then Pu Yi has just turned six, not eight, and has been separated from his family for four years, not seven. See more »
[bidding farewell to Pu Yi as he is released from reform camp]
You see, I will end up living in prison longer than you!
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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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