The Last Emperor is a 1987 epic biographical drama film about the life of Puyi, the final Emperor of China. It is directed by Bernardo Bertolucci from a screenplay he co-wrote with Mark Peploe, which was adapted from Puyi's 1964 autobiography, and independently produced by Jeremy Thomas.
The film depicts Puyi's life from his ascent to the throne as a small boy to his imprisonment and political rehabilitation by the Chinese Communist Party. It stars John Lone in the eponymous role, with Peter O'Toole, Joan Chen, Ruocheng Ying, Victor Wong, Dennis Dun, Vivian Wu, Lisa Lu, and Ryuichi Sakamoto (who also composed the film score with David Byrne and Cong Su). It was the first Western feature film authorized by the People's Republic of China to film in the Forbidden City in Beijing.
The Last Emperor premiered at the 1987 Tokyo International Film Festival, and was released in the United States by Columbia Pictures on November 18. It earned widespread positive reviews from critics and was also a commercial success. At the 60th Academy Awards, it won all nine Oscars it was nominated for, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It also won several other accolades, including three BAFTA Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, nine David di Donatello Awards, and a Grammy Award for its musical score.
This article will review the full version of The Last Emperor that is available on BluRay with 720p resolution and H264 codec. This version has a running time of 219 minutes, which includes an extended prologue and epilogue that were not shown in the theatrical release. The BluRay edition also features a commentary track by Bertolucci and Thomas, a documentary on the making of the film, deleted scenes, interviews with cast and crew members, and a photo gallery.
By 1950, the 44-year old Puyi, former Emperor of China, has been in custody for five years since his capture by the Red Army during the Soviet invasion of Manchuria. In the recently established People's Republic of China, Puyi arrives as a political prisoner and war criminal at the Fushun Prison. Soon after his arrival, Puyi attempts suicide, but is quickly rescued and told he must stand trial.
42 years earlier, in 1908, a toddler Puyi is summoned to the Forbidden City by the dying Empress Dowager Cixi. After telling him that the previous emperor had died earlier that day, Cixi tells Puyi that he is to be the next emperor. After his coronation, Puyi, frightened by his new surroundings, repeatedly expresses his wish to go home, but is denied.
In 1912, after a successful revolution topples the Qing Dynasty (16441912), Puyi's father tells him that he must abdicate his throne as part of an agreement between General Yuan Shikai and Sun Yat-sen. However, Yuan Shikai allows Puyi to retain his imperial status and residence in the Forbidden City as a figurehead ruler.
In 1919, Reginald Johnston arrives as an English tutor for Puyi and becomes a close friend and confidant. Johnston introduces Puyi to Western culture and values and encourages him to learn English and history. He also tries to reform some of the imperial customs that he finds barbaric or outdated.
In 1924, after a coup d'état staged by Feng Yuxiang removes Yuan Shikai's successor Duan Qirui as premier of China's Beiyang government (19121928), Feng's forces occupy Beijing and expel Puyi from the Forbidden City. Puyi flees to Tianjin with his family and loyal servants under British protection.
In 1925, Johnston leaves China due to political unrest and bids farewell to Puyi. He gives him a cricket box as a parting gift and tells him to live an ordinary life. Puyi is heartbroken and feels abandoned by his friend.
In 1931, after the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, Puyi is persuaded by his brother Pujie and his cousin Zheng Xiaoxu to accept the Japanese offer to become the emperor of their puppet state of Manchukuo. Puyi hopes to restore his glory and power, but soon realizes that he is a puppet in the hands of the Japanese, who manipulate him through his advisors and concubines.
In 1934, Puyi marries Wanrong, who is chosen by the Japanese as his empress. He also takes a secondary consort, Wenxiu, who later divorces him. Wanrong becomes addicted to opium and grows distant from Puyi. She also has an affair with Puyi's driver.
In 1937, after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident triggers the Second Sino-Japanese War (19371945), Puyi is forced to declare war on China as the nominal head of state of Manchukuo. He is also pressured to adopt a Japanese name, Kangde, and convert to Shintoism.
In 1945, after Japan's surrender in World War II (19391945), Puyi is captured by the Soviet Red Army and taken to a prison camp in Siberia. He is treated harshly and interrogated by the Soviets, who try to make him confess his crimes as a collaborator.
In 1950, Puyi is extradited to China as a war criminal and transferred to the Fushun Prison. There, he meets his jailer, who turns out to be Chen Baochen, his former tutor and governor in the Forbidden City. Chen tells Puyi that he has been assigned to help him reform and rehabilitate.
In 1959, after nine years of imprisonment and re-education, Puyi is declared reformed and released from prison. He is given a job as a gardener at the Beijing Botanical Garden. He also reunites with Li Wenda, a former servant from the Forbidden City who has become a taxi driver.
In 1967, during the Cultural Revolution (19661976), Puyi visits the Forbidden City as an ordinary tourist. He sees that many of his former possessions have been destroyed or looted by the Red Guards. He also encounters a young boy who wears his imperial robe as a costume. Puyi tells the boy that he was once the emperor of China.
The Last Emperor is a masterpiece of cinema that tells a fascinating and tragic story of a man who was born to rule but destined to fall. The film is remarkable for its historical accuracy, artistic vision, and emotional impact.
The film benefits from its superb cast, especially John Lone, who delivers a powerful and nuanced performance as Puyi. He portrays the character's transformation from a naive and spoiled child to a lonely and disillusioned man with great skill and sensitivity.
The film also features stunning cinematography by Vittorio Storaro, who captures the beauty and splendor of the Forbidden City as well as the bleakness and horror of war and prison. The film's score by Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Byrne, and Cong Su is equally impressive, blending traditional Chinese music with modern synthesizers and creating a haunting and atmospheric soundtrack.
The film's director, Bernardo Bertolucci, deserves praise for his ambitious and visionary approach to filmmaking. He manages to create an epic film that spans six decades and two continents without losing sight of the human drama at its core. He also avoids taking sides or passing judgment on the complex political and historical issues that surround Puyi's life.
The Last Emperor is a film that deserves to be seen in its full version on BluRay with 720p resolution and H264 codec. This version offers a richer and more complete experience of the film than the theatrical release. It adds more depth and context to Puyi's life story and enhances the film's visual and audio quality.
The Last Emperor is one of the greatest films ever made. It is a cinematic masterpiece that tells an epic and moving story of a man who was both a victim and a symbol of history. It is a film that should not be missed by anyone who loves cinema.The film's full version on BluRay with 720p resolution and H264 codec also includes some bonus features that are worth watching. They provide more insight into the film's production and reception, as well as the historical and cultural background of Puyi's life.
The commentary track features director Bernardo Bertolucci and producer Jeremy Thomas, who share their memories and anecdotes about making the film. They discuss the challenges and difficulties they faced in securing the permission to film in China, working with a large and diverse cast and crew, and dealing with the censorship and controversy that the film generated. They also reveal some of the artistic choices and influences that shaped the film's style and tone.
Documentary: The Making of The Last Emperor
The documentary is a 53-minute featurette that chronicles the film's production from pre-production to post-production. It includes interviews with Bertolucci, Thomas, John Lone, Joan Chen, Peter O'Toole, Vittorio Storaro, Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Byrne, Cong Su, and other cast and crew members. It also shows behind-the-scenes footage of the filming in China, Italy, and England, as well as the editing and scoring process. The documentary gives a detailed and fascinating account of how the film was made.
The deleted scenes are 12 minutes of footage that were cut from the film for various reasons. They include scenes that show Puyi's childhood in the Forbidden City, his relationship with his wet nurse Ar Mo, his friendship with his eunuch Li Lianying, his visit to Japan in 1921, his meeting with Pu Yi (the emperor of Korea) in 1934, his escape from Manchuria in 1945, and his reunion with Wanrong in prison in 1950. Some of these scenes add more depth and emotion to Puyi's character and story.
The interviews are 30 minu