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The Last Emperor
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The Last Emperor (1987) More at IMDbPro »

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The Last Emperor -- China's final Emperor is chronicled in this Oscar winning film
The Last Emperor -- The story of the final Emperor of China.


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7.8/10   62,771 votes »
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Up 3% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Mark Peploe (screenplay) and
Bernardo Bertolucci (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for The Last Emperor on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
15 April 1988 (USA) See more »
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.
The story of the final Emperor of China. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Won 9 Oscars. Another 45 wins & 13 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Long and well worth every moment See more (130 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

John Lone ... Pu Yi - Adult

Joan Chen ... Wan Jung

Peter O'Toole ... Reginald 'R. J.' Johnston
Ruocheng Ying ... The Governor (as Ying Ruocheng)

Victor Wong ... Chen Pao Shen
Dennis Dun ... Big Li

Ryûichi Sakamoto ... Amakasu
Maggie Han ... Eastern Jewel

Ric Young ... Interrogator

Vivian Wu ... Wen Hsiu (as Wu Jun Mei)

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa ... Chang (as Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa)
Jade Go ... Ar Mo
Fumihiko Ikeda ... Yoshioka
Richard Vuu ... Pu Yi - 3 Years
Tsou Tijger ... Pu Yi - 8 Years (as Tijger Tsou)
Tao Wu ... Pu Yi - 15 Years (as Wu Tao)
Guang Fan ... Pu Chieh - Adult (as Fan Guang)
Henry Kyi ... Pu Chieh - 7 Years
Alvin Riley III ... Pu Chieh - 14 Years

Lisa Lu ... Tzu Hsui
Hideo Takamatsu ... General Ishikari
Hajime Tachibana ... Japanese Translator
Basil Pao ... Prince Chun
Henry O ... Lord Chamberlain (as Jiang Xi Ren)

Kaige Chen ... Captain of Imperial Guard (as Chen Kai Ge)
Liangbin Zhang ... Big Foot (as Zhang Liangbin)
Wenjie Huang ... Hunchback (as Huang Wenjie)
Dong Liang ... Lady Aisin-Gioro (as Liang Dong)
Zhendong Dong ... Old Doctor (as Dong Zhendong)
Jiechen Dong ... Doctor (as Dong Jiechen)

Constantine Gregory ... Oculist
Huaikuei Soong ... Lung Yu (as Soong Huaikuei)
Ruzhen Shao ... First High Consort (as Shao Ruzhen)
Li Yu ... Second High Consort
Guangli Li ... Third High Consort (as Li Guangli)
Chunqing Xu ... Grey Eyes
Tianmin Zhang ... Old Tutor (as Zhang Tianmin)
Hongnian Luo ... Sleeping Old Tutor (as Luo Hongnian)
Shihong Yu ... Hsiao Hsiu (as Yu Shihong)
Jun Wu ... Wen Hsiu - 12 Years (as Wu Jun)
Lucia Hwong ... Lady of the Book
Jingping Cui ... Lady of the Pen (as Cui Jingping)

Shi Liang ... Republican Officer (as Wu Hai)
Junguo Gu ... Tang (as Gu Junguo)
Xu Tongrui ... Captain of Feng's Army
Fusheng Li ... Minister of Trade (as Li Fusheng)
Shu Chen ... Chang Chinghui (as Chen Shu)
Shuyan Cheng ... Lady Hiro Saga (as Cheng Shuyan)

Daxing Zhang ... Tough Warder (as Zhang Daxing)
Ruigang Zu ... Second Warder (as Zu Ruigang)
Yuan Jin ... Party Boss (as Jin Yuan)
Akira Ikuta ... Japanese Doctor
Michael Vermaaten ... American
Matthew Spender ... Englishman
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Hongxiang Cai ... Scarface (uncredited)
Xinmin Cui ... Japanese Bodyguard (uncredited)
Zhenduo Li ... Dignitary (uncredited)
Shigang Luo ... Chang Chinghui's Secretary (uncredited)
Guang Ma ... Japanese Bodyguard (uncredited)

Glen Murphy ... Captain (uncredited)
Biao Wang ... Prisoner (uncredited)
Baozong Yang ... General Yuan Shikai (uncredited)
Hongchang Yang ... Scribe (uncredited)
Lingmu Zhang ... Emperor Hirohito (uncredited)

Directed by
Bernardo Bertolucci 
Writing credits
Mark Peploe (screenplay) and
Bernardo Bertolucci (screenplay)

Enzo Ungari (initial screenplay collaboration)

Henry Pu-yi  autobiography "From Emperor to Citizen, The Autobiography of Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi" (uncredited)

Produced by
John Daly .... executive producer
Franco Giovale .... associate producer
Joyce Herlihy .... associate producer: UK
Jeremy Thomas .... producer
Original Music by
David Byrne 
Ryûichi Sakamoto 
Cong Su 
Cinematography by
Vittorio Storaro (photography)
Film Editing by
Gabriella Cristiani 
Casting by
Joanna Merlin 
Production Design by
Ferdinando Scarfiotti 
Art Direction by
Maria-Teresa Barbasso  (as Maria Teresa Barbasso)
Gianni Giovagnoni 
Gianni Silvestri 
Set Decoration by
Chunpu Wang  (as Wang Chunpu)
Costume Design by
James Acheson 
Makeup Department
Ennio Cascioli .... assistant hair stylist
Iole Cecchini .... hair designer
Elisabetta De Leonardis .... assistant hair stylist
Giancarlo De Leonardis .... hair designer
Franco Giannini .... makeup assistant
Feng Guixiang .... makeup artist
Antonio Maltempo .... makeup assistant
Fabrizio Sforza .... makeup artist
Gino Zamprioli .... makeup assistant
Wanxiang Zhang .... makeup artist
Giancarlo De Leonardis .... hair stylist (uncredited)
Production Management
Stefano Bolzoni .... production manager
Mario Cotone .... production supervisor
Richard Lloyd .... post-production supervisor (tv version)
Lamberto Palmieri .... production manager
Alberto Passone .... production manager
Pietro Sassaroli .... production manager
Michael Saxton .... post-production supervisor
Attilio Viti .... production manager
Liansheng Wang .... associate production manager (as Wang Liansheng)
Kebing Yang .... associate production manager (as Yang Kebing)
Yumin Zhang .... associate production manager (as Zhang Yuming)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Franco Angeli .... third assistant director
Serena Canevari .... second assistant director
Fabien Gerard .... third assistant director (as Fabian Gerard)
Lou Hangmin .... assistant director
Li Hongsheng .... assistant director
Giulio Levi .... third assistant director
Ying Ning .... third assistant director (as Ning Ying)
Basil Pao .... third assistant director
Nicoletta Peyran .... third assistant director
Gabriele Polverosi .... first assistant director
Biao Wang .... assistant director (as Wang Biao)
Art Department
Sante Barelli .... special set paintings
Bruno Cesari .... set dresser
Osvaldo Desideri .... set dresser
Galliano Donati .... sculptor
Roberto Magagnini .... props
Carlo Maggi .... head plasterer
Dario Micheli .... set dresser
Barnaba Pagliarini .... drapery
Cynthia Sleiter .... draughtswoman
Boriana Soong .... art department assistant
Fernando Valento .... construction manager
Jixian Wang .... art designer (as Wang Jixian)
Xu Xianqing .... property
Xianchun Zhang .... property
Jin Ming Zhu .... property (as Zhu Ming)
Andy Friend .... illustrator (uncredited)
Sound Department
Don Banks .... boom operator
Alan Bell .... dialogue editor
Geoff R. Brown .... dialogue assistant (as Geoff Brown)
Terry Busby .... sound editor: footsteps
Mike Hopkins .... dialogue editor
David Motta .... sound engineer
William Parnell .... sound assistant (as Bill Parnell)
Bill Rowe .... sound mixer
Ivan Sharrock .... sound mixer
Les Wiggins .... sound editor
Colin Wood .... boom operator
Special Effects by
Gino De Rossi .... special effects
Fabrizio Martinelli .... special effects
Jinguo Yang .... special effects (as Yang Jingguo)
Mario Cassar .... special effects technician (uncredited)
Claudio Quaglietti .... special effects technician (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
Shulamit Levin .... digital restoration (2007 restored version)
Craig Chandler .... optical effects (uncredited)
Alan Church .... optical effects (uncredited)
Chad Cortvriendt .... stereoscopic production manager (uncredited)
Jaime Palmer .... compositor (uncredited)
Tony Willis .... effects cameraman (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Giuseppe Alberti .... focus puller
Luigi Bernardini .... focus puller
Filippo Cafolla .... head gaffer
Sean Herlihy .... camera assistant
Alfredo Marchetti .... head grip (as Alredo Marchetti)
Mauro Marchetti .... camera operator: "b" camera
Angelo Novi .... still photographer
Nicola Pecorini .... steadicam operator
Enrico Umetelli .... camera operator: "a" camera
Riccardo Umetelli .... loader
Zhenhua Wang .... lighting (as Wang Zhenghua)
Fabio Zamarion .... loader
Ni Zhongze .... lighting
Keith Hamshere .... special photographer (uncredited)
Stefano Marino .... electrician (uncredited)
Rob McEwan .... still photographer (uncredited)
Mauro Pezzotti .... grip (uncredited)
Casting Department
Brendan Donnison .... adr casting (as Brendon Donnison)
Alice Jankowiak .... casting assistant
Ulrike Koch .... casting: China
Patricia Pao .... casting: Hong Kong
Nina Axelrod .... casting assistant (uncredited)
Daxing Zhang .... casting assistant (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Martin Adams .... costume prop maker
Franco Antonelli .... wardrobe coordinator
Vincenzo Cancellara .... wardrobe assistant
Thomas Casterline .... assistant costume designer
Damiana Celletti .... wardrobe assistant
Silvana Cocuccione .... wardrobe assistant (as Silvana Cocuccioni)
Shirley Cooper .... costume prop maker
Millina Deodato .... assistant military costume designer
Anna Foresi .... wardrobe assistant
Magot Forster .... costume applique work
Frank Gardiner .... assistant costume designer
Annie Hadley .... cutter
Gilly Hebden .... assistant costume designer
Michael Jones .... milliner
Colette Koo .... assistant costume designer (as Collette Koo)
Teresa Micocci .... cutter
Day Murch .... costume applique work
Paola Pedricca .... wardrobe assistant (as Paola Petricca)
Ugo Pericoli .... military costumer
Gregorio Simili .... dyer
Huanxiang Sun .... costumer (as Sun Huanxiang)
David Whiteing .... wardrobe assistant
Gong Zhangjing .... costumer
Giancarlo Colis .... costumer (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Martin Crane .... first assistant editor
Fiorella Giovanelli .... second assistant editor
Mike Griffiths .... telecine colorist (television version)
Catherine Hodgson .... second assistant editor
Carlo La Bella .... color supervisor
Aldo Manni .... negative cutter
Nadia Mazzoni .... second assistant editor
Elvio Sordoni .... first assistant editor
Music Department
Haydn Bendall .... music engineer: London (as Hayden Bendall)
Aki Ikuta .... music producer: London
Aki Ikuta .... musical associate: Tokyo
Michael Jarratt .... music engineer: London (as Mike Jarratt)
Clive Martin .... music engineer: David Byrne's sessions
Michio Nakagoshi .... music engineer: Tokyo
Yuji Nomi .... additional music arranger: Tokyo
Masatsugu Shinozaki .... musician
Ian Silvester .... music engineer: Audio FX, London
Shigeru Takise .... music engineer: Tokyo
Kôji Ueno .... additional music arranger: Tokyo
Ray Williams .... music supervisor
Gavin Wright .... conductor: London
Hans Zimmer .... music producer: London (as Hans F. Zimmer)
Hans Zimmer .... musical associate: London (as Hans F. Zimmer)
Gemma Dempsey .... assistant music supervisor (uncredited)
Greg Fulginiti .... music engineer (uncredited)
Paul Kegg .... musician: cello (uncredited)
Other crew
Verena Baldeo .... production assistant
Cicely Berry .... dialogue coach
Maurice Binder .... title designer: main title
Lizzie Bryant .... secretary to producer
Rubin Cai .... organizer: Beijing Film Studio (as Cai Rubin)
Andrew Calvert .... computer operator
Riccardo Caneva .... accountant
Concetta Caporale .... production secretary
Anita Capozzi .... interpreter
Fausto Capozzi .... accountant
Marco Carosi .... video
Hazel Crombie .... production accountant
Sheala Daniell .... assistant production accountant
Michael Day .... interpreter
Sevilla Delofski .... assistant to producer
Gianna Di Michele .... accountant (as Gianna De Micheli)
Suzanne Durrenberger .... continuity
Susanna Ferrari .... interpreter
Sergio Forcina .... armourer
Giovanna Fulvi .... interpreter
Juliet Garland .... computer operator
Vanessa Goddard .... publicity coordinator
Marina Grappelli .... accountant
Maurizio Graziosi .... accountant
Constantine Gregory .... dialogue coach
Massimo Iacobis .... production assistant (as Massimo Jacobis)
Aisin Gioro Pu Jie .... advisor
Sara Keene .... director of publicity
Mary Lance .... documentary film researcher
Memo Mancino .... armourer
Carlo Pasini .... production secretary
Cloe Peploe .... historical research
Manuela Pineskj .... production coordinator (as Manuela Pineskj Berger)
Guoburou Run Qi .... advisor
Ann Roddy .... interpreter
Daniel Shallon .... assistant continuity
Shirley Sun .... production consultant
Betty Swinburne .... accounts secretary
Ron Swinburne .... financial controller
Cinzia Taffani .... production secretary
Luciano Tartaglia .... accountant
Ann Tasker .... unit publicist
Riccardo Umetelli .... screenings operator
Li Wenda .... advisor
Aisin Gioro Wen Xin .... advisor
Chunqing Xu .... representative: China Film Co-Production Corporation (as Xu Chunquing)
Federica Zappalà .... accountant (as Federica Zappala)
Aisin Gioro Yu Zhan .... advisor
Liangbin Zhang .... representative: China Film Co-Production Corporation (as Zhang Lianbin)
Monica Zucchetti .... interpreter
Pauline Hume .... graphic artist: titles (uncredited)
Lee Katz .... production consultant (uncredited)
Gemma Dempsey .... many thanks
Brian Gülland .... many thanks
Jean Pasqualini .... special thanks: author of 'Prisoner of Mao'
Keiko Shinozaki .... many thanks
Hiroaki Sugawara .... many thanks
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
163 min | 219 min (television version)
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
2.00 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Dolby (35 mm prints) | 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)
Argentina:16 | Australia:M | Brazil:Livre | Canada:PA (Manitoba) | Canada:A (Nova Scotia) (original rating) | Canada:AA (Ontario) | Canada:G (Quebec) | Canada:14 (Nova Scotia) (re-rating) (1999) | Chile:14 | Finland:K-14 (original rating) | Finland:K-11 (re-rating) | France:U | Germany:12 | Germany:12 (director's cut) | Iceland:12 | Italy:T | Japan:PG12 (2015) | Netherlands:12 (director's cut) | Peru:14 | Portugal:M/12 (Qualidade) | Singapore:NC-16 | South Korea:12 | Sweden:11 | UK:15 | UK:15 (director's cut) | USA:PG-13 | USA:TV-14 (TV rating)

Did You Know?

19,000 extras were needed over the course of the film.See more »
Anachronisms: When Johnston is about to board a ship to England in 1931, a ticket office window is seen in the background with opening and closing times given in simplified Chinese characters. China only switched to simplified characters after the Communists came to power in 1949, with a drive to improve literacy. At the time this scene takes place, traditional full-form characters would have been used.See more »
The Governor:[Confronting Puyi in the prison gardens, where Puyi works alone] Perhaps you think we're here to teach men to lie in a new way?
The Governor:[Puyi continues working as if trying to ignore the Governor] Why did you sign every accusation made against you? I didn't stop you from killing yourself to see you like this! Someone who will sign anything to please his enemies... to please me!
The Governor:[Puyi continues working] You knew about a lot of things in Manchukuo... even the secret agreements. But you couldn't possibly have known about the Japanese biological warfare experiments in Harbin! Could you? So why did you sign these papers?
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in The Tuxedo (2002)See more »
China BoySee more »


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48 out of 73 people found the following review useful.
Long and well worth every moment, 12 May 2003
Author: brower8 from United States

The last Emperor of China, Pu Yi, we now understand, was never anything more than a puppet. He wielded absolute power within his real realm -- a gilded cage of a palace -- but could never shape events except for tragedy to himself or to others.

We see his life as one unlikely person, the one person that one would have most expect to have been insulated, in a gigantic tragedy -- that of China between the chaotic beginning of what might have been a long reign and the destructive Cultural Revolution of Mao, with coups, warlord rule, World War II, and the Marxist Revolution culminating in the rise of Mao. One recognizes that the pathologies of imperial China never truly died, but merely took new forms in the cult of the Leader. That the scenery is beautiful and hedonism among elites is rife hardly conceals the fact that China was a political Hell.

Pu Yi, once the Emperor of the great (but decrepit) Chinese Empire, becomes Emperor of the Forbidden Palace in 1912 before he is expelled in one of many violent revolutions (this one in 1925) in China. We see him doing a few things right, like reforming the Palace bureaucracy from a den of thieves into something honorable. He gets a superb adviser in Reginald Johnston, who gave him the confidence to be a political figure -- even a good one -- in the happiest time of his life. Johnston leaves as Pu Yi is expelled from the Palace, and eventually falls under the spell of the Japanese, who rip Manchuria from China and find someone willing to rule it in an enlightened manner -- himself. The Prime Minister of his choosing is killed, and Pu Yi becomes a puppet ruler of a contemptible entity. It's just like the old days, only the intriguers are worse -- far worse. The decrepitude of the system sets in at the first moment. As Emperor he can only accede to what his Japanese overlords demand.

At the end of the war he is arrested by the Soviets because he dallies too long on unfinished business -- and after the 1949 Revolution he is sent back to China as a war criminal and traitor. Rather than being executed (as one might expect) he is sent to prison as a convict.

As a prisoner he is incarcerated with some of his former underlings -- war criminals of the Manchukuo puppet state -- who have learned to ape the ideology of their captors, and he runs afoul of those 'fellow' inmates. Ex-fascists make the most fervent communists. All in all, he simplifies and becomes a very ordinary man in a society that punished anyone who challenged anything that the regime didn't want people to challenge.

Pure puppet? Not quite. A dupe who never left when the going was good -- if the going was ever good -- and that is exactly what the Imperial role made him. In childhood the ruler of the greatest empire (in population size, that is) on Earth -- in a premature old age, a cipher. Then again, what else did most Chinese ever become in China during the first two thirds of the 20th century become -- ciphers, old before their time, wrecks of no fault of their own, just to survive.

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