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The Last Emperor (1987)

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The story of the final Emperor of China.

Writers:

Mark Peploe (screenplay), Bernardo Bertolucci (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
2,622 ( 894)
Won 9 Oscars. Another 48 wins & 16 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 'R. J.' Johnston
Ruocheng Ying 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:

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. See more »


Certificate:

12 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | Italy | China | France

Language:

English | Mandarin | Japanese

Release Date:

10 December 1987 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

El último emperador See more »

Filming Locations:

Beijing Studios, Beijing, China See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£23,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$149,460, 20 November 1987, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$43,984,230
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (television)

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ruocheng Ying, playing the Governor in the film, was at that time, the vice president of Department of Culture in the People's Republic of China. See more »

Goofs

When Puyi's wife arrives at the marriage ceremony a woman can be seen in the background clutching to the side rail as she almost trips down the flight of stairs. See more »

Quotes

Reginald Fleming 'R.J.' Johnston: Words are important.
Pu Yi, at 15: Why are words important?
Reginald Fleming 'R.J.' Johnston: If you cannot say what you mean, your majesty, you will never mean what you say and a gentleman should always mean what he says.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The theatrical version runs 163 minutes. A 218 minute version was released in the US in 1998 under the mistaken title of the "Director's Cut". It was known by this erroneous title until the 2008 Criterion DVD and Blu-ray Disc came out. Bertolucci and DP Vittorio Storaro made it clear while working on the DVD and BD that the shorter theatrical version is without doubt the director's cut. The 218 minute version was an early cut meant only to be aired as a four-part television mini-series by the Italian television network that funded the film. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Gamera vs. Gaos (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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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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