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
The real Reginald Johnston spoke fluent Chinese and was extremely well versed in the history of China, as well as its poetry. In the film, he and Pu Yi speak English to each other. See more »
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 »
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.
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The Criterion Collection DVD and Blu-ray releases are re-framed in director of photography Vittorio Storaro's preferred Univisium 2.00:1 format. This was the intended ratio for the film, despite it being commonly projected in 2.39:1 during its theatrical release. See more »
An Example of Quantity and Quality Combining to Make an Unforgettable Film
"The Last Emperor" is a near perfect film. It was nominated for nine Oscars in 1987 and it won nine (including the Best Picture Oscar). The movie is about the life of Pu Yi (John Lone), China's last emperor. In spite of becoming emperor at the age of three, Yi's reign was more of a burden than anything else. Yi would ultimately end up living an unsavory life of imprisonment which is heartrending to the viewer. "The Last Emperor" is visually stunning. The minute details are amazing. However, the story stands up high as well. Historically accurate for the most part, "The Last Emperor" is easily one of the top 10 films of the 1980s and overall an exceptional achievement in every cinematic department known to man. 5 stars out of 5.
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