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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 65,118 users   Metascore: 76/100
Reviews: 131 user | 74 critic | 15 from

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?


Henry Pu-yi's younger brother, Pu Chieh, and Li Wenda, who helped Pu Yi write his autobiography, were brought in to act as advisors on the film. See more »


The Emperor sings "Am I Blue" in 1927, but the song wasn't written until 1929. See more »


Pu Yi, at 15: [in heavily accented English] I know that you know that I know that you know that that is a dialogue between Confucius and Chuang Tzu.
See more »


Edited into Visions of Light (1992) See more »


China Boy
(1922) (uncredited)
Music by Richard A Winfree
Words by Phil Boutelje
played by the jazz band after Pu Yi finishes singing "Am I Blue"
See more »

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User Reviews

26 December 2003 | by (The Hague, Netherlands) – See all my reviews

'The Last Emperor' tells the story of Pu Yi, as an adult played by John Lone, the last emperor of China. He was three years old when he first sat down on the Dragon Throne. He didn't know anything. The movie tells his story from that moment in flashbacks. We also get to see Pu Yi when the Chinese Communists have the power and he is imprisoned. Because people have taken care of him the rest of his life, from three years old to the moments inside the prison, it still feels he knows nothing.

To tell you about the life of Pu Yi would be a mistake. You have to see this movie to learn more about it. The strange thing is that Pu Yi can not do and decide much for himself. He is a hero of a movie where he is controlled by rules and other people. That is one of the reasons not many real things happen. We see the emperor grow up, we see him take an empress and a concubine, and then he has to leave the Forbidden City because the enemy is at the gate.

The impressive thing here are the locations and the costumes. Everything looks fabulous and it is not a surprise to find out that the movie was shot on location. With all the extras in those beautiful costumes there are a lot of very impressive scenes. May be the movie is a bit too long for some, it didn't really bother me. Director Bernardo Bertolucci has made a terrific movie.

55 of 69 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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