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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
4,479 ( 146)
Won 9 Oscars. Another 49 wins & 18 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:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | Italy | China | France

Language:

English | Mandarin | Japanese

Release Date:

15 April 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Last Emperor See more »

Filming Locations:

Beijing Studios, Beijing, 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

Show more on IMDbPro »

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
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Puyi's younger brother, Pu Chieh, and Li Wenda, who helped Pu Yi write his autobiography, were brought in to act as advisors on the film. See more »

Goofs

The emperor was not in the Forbidden City to witness the expulsion of the eunuchs. This action was carefully planned with few people knowing, since the emperor could trust very few of his intimates. The order to remove the eunuchs was received in the City while the emperor was visiting at a friend's home. Also, not all of the eunuch's were dismissed, as the empress dowager (the wife of the late emperor) begged Pu Yi to allow a few of her personal servants to remain. See more »

Quotes

The Governor: [setting a recurring theme of imprisonment throughout the film] Open the door! Open the door! Open the door!... Open the door!
See more »

Alternate Versions

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 »

Connections

Featured in The Oscars (2019) See more »

Soundtracks

Yankee Doodle
(uncredited)
Traditional folk tune
[Played by the air-horn of the American tourist guide in the Forbidden City]
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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