The story of the final Emperor of China.

Writers:

Mark Peploe (screenplay), Bernardo Bertolucci (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
2,970 ( 186)
Won 9 Oscars. Another 51 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Lone ... Pu Yi (Adult)
Joan Chen ... Wan Jung
Peter O'Toole ... Reginald Johnston (R.J.)
Ruocheng Ying ... The Governor (as Ying Ruocheng)
Victor Wong ... Chen Pao Shen
Dennis Dun ... Big Li
Ryuichi Sakamoto ... Amakasu (as Ryûichi Sakamoto)
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 Jade Go ... Ar Mo
Fumihiko Ikeda Fumihiko Ikeda ... Yoshioka
Richard Vuu ... Pu Yi (3 years)
Tsou Tijger 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:

1500 slaves. 353,260,000 royal subjects. Warlords. Concubines. And 2 wives. He was the loneliest boy in the world. See more »


Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Buddhist lamas who appear in the film could not be touched by women, so extra male wardrobe helpers were hired to dress them. See more »

Goofs

In numerous scenes taking place before the establishment of the People's Republic of China writings in simplified Chinese characters can be seen. However, these were only introduced in 1949. During the Qing dynasty much more elaborate traditional characters would have been in use. See more »

Quotes

Pu Yi, at 15: Is it true, Mr. Johnston, that many people out there have had their heads cut off?
Reginald Fleming 'R.J.' Johnston: It is true, your majesty. Many heads have been chopped off. It does stop them thinking.
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Alternate Versions

In Japan, the theatrical release was originally cut by about 5 minutes, omitting the scene where actual footage of the results of the areas in China that were affected by the Japanese invasion (including Japanese atrocities) was shown to the prisoners, and Pu-Yi standing up saying to himself "I'm totally responsible." After a public outcry by China, this scene was restored and shown fully uncut at 218 minutes. See more »

Connections

Featured in Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Am I Blue
(1929)
Music by Harry Akst
Lyrics Grant Clarke
Sung by John Lone as Pu Yi
Published by Feldman Music
c/o EMI Music Publishing Ltd.
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User Reviews

 
A great artistic achievement
16 April 2006 | by StanleyStrangeloveSee 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.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK | Italy | France

Language:

English | Mandarin | Japanese

Release Date:

15 April 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Last Emperor See more »

Filming Locations:

China See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

GBP23,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$149,460, 22 November 1987

Gross USA:

$43,984,230

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$43,993,508
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (television) | (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby (35 mm prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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