The Last Emperor is a truly larger than life film telling us about a life of a human, but not just any human, the Emperor himself. He's also not your normal emperor, he's the Last Emperor of China, his name is Pu Yi. He lives his life however he wants to and he sort has a larger than life persona. In just his late 20s, he stood at the throne ruling over one of the largest nations on Earth, with the most people on Earth. He controls and commands the lives of nearly Five-Hundred Million people. Throughout his abdication, his decline and dissolute lifestyle; his exploitation by the <more>
invading Japanese, and finally to his obscure existence as just another peasant worker in the People's Republic.While the film isn't perfect, it is certainly beautiful and a visual treat for anyone. Bernardo Bertolucci's cinematic biography of Emperor Pu Yi is an emotional, beautiful and astonishing film... And it's a massive production which won 9 Oscars, It deserved every single one of them. The film will always be remembered for its size and its beauty. This Asian Masterpiece tells us a story of not only an Emperor, but of a country, which was and still is the largest nation in the world. The Last Emperor is certainly one the Largest, most beautiful films ever created in Cinema.A Monumental Achievement. ~10/10~
I saw this movie at the cinema when I was 17 years old. I was completely overwhelmed by the movie I already had a fascination for China that I decided to visit china in 1992 just to see the forbidden palace and the rest of China of course .The music in the movie is brilliant, the cinematography outstanding, the story very moving the end of the movie broke my heart . Don´t expect an action-packed or high paced movie and be ready to sit through 3+ hours. If you´re all that, it might be worth a look for you as well:
A great artistic achievement (by StanleyStrangelove)
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 <more>
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.
'The Last Emperor' tells the story of Pu Yi, as an adult played by John Lone, the last emperor of China. He was three years old when he first sat down on the Dragon Throne. He didn't know anything. The movie tells his story from that moment in flashbacks. We also get to see Pu Yi when the Chinese Communists have the power and he is imprisoned. Because people have taken care of him the rest of his life, from three years old to the moments inside the prison, it still feels he knows nothing.To tell you about the life of Pu Yi would be a mistake. You have to see this movie to learn <more>
more about it. The strange thing is that Pu Yi can not do and decide much for himself. He is a hero of a movie where he is controlled by rules and other people. That is one of the reasons not many real things happen. We see the emperor grow up, we see him take an empress and a concubine, and then he has to leave the Forbidden City because the enemy is at the gate.The impressive thing here are the locations and the costumes. Everything looks fabulous and it is not a surprise to find out that the movie was shot on location. With all the extras in those beautiful costumes there are a lot of very impressive scenes. May be the movie is a bit too long for some, it didn't really bother me. Director Bernardo Bertolucci has made a terrific movie.
Excellent, if not emotionally confusing, film. (by Giant Squid)
I'd like to comment on the "The Last Emperor" from a somewhat oblique angle compared to the usual reviews a film gets.For starters, it is my opinion that this was a really good film to watch. It also spurred me into researching a little more Chinese, as well as Japanese, history. I think I should note here, there are some great books to research on the life of Pu Yi. There is in fact a book; "Twilight In The Forbidden City" by Reginald F. Johnston as well as "From Emperor to Citizen" an autobiography by Pu Yi himself. I'll list some titles and where to <more>
find them at the end of my "comment".This "oblique" angle that I'd like to take is on the emotional impact of the film.While I found the film informative and well made, I also found it conveyed an emotional emptiness, and maybe even sadness. I was distraught at the end of the film. In short: It made me feel that here is a man who was somebody, and at the end of his life he has nothing. He lost everything he ever had, and died alone.While everyone may get something different from the film, they undoubtedly will find similarities with other viewers as well. I almost wish some creative license were taken to end the film on a happier note.Although, I found it sad, solemn, and many times it made me feel just empty like I wasn't sure what to feel but I wanted anything to fill the emptiness, I also found it compelling. Not many other films have so made me want to learn more about the history, and people in a film.That's my review. And as a final note: while my review may have had a somewhat down tone to it and may have even left some people feeling like the review is a bit empty or unfinished, I also hope it compelled people to think a little differently about "The Last Emperor" and maybe even spur some of you to do a little of your own research on the people and places in the film.Books:Twilight In The Forbidden City by Reginald F. Johnston ISBN: 0848813901From Emperor To Citizen by Pu Yi ISBN: 7119007726The Last Emperor by Arnold C. Brackman ISBN: 0881847003The Last Emperor by Edward Behr ISBN: 0553344749The Puppet Emperor: The Life of Pu Yi, Last Emperor of China by Brian Power ISBN: 0876634587
This is a unique film because it is a unique story. Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi also known as Henry Pu Yi was the last emperor of China, who spent most of his early life as a puppet of others. He was then re-educated into an ordinary citizen He worked as a gardener in the People's Republic of China. The exciting thing from our point of view is that Henry Pu Yi wrote an autobiography "From Emperor to Citizen" , and it is largely on this book that the film is based.The colourful pageantry in this film is superb - utterly unforgettable. Unfortunately the characterisation is not so well <more>
thought out. Only as the cheerful gardener does Pu Yi become anything approaching real - which may be the truth anyway. Otherwise the film becomes a series of historical events, which could well bamboozle anyone who does not know their history, since it is often not quite clear what is actually going on. Having said this, the tragedy of Pu Yi's life - and it was mostly tragedy - comes through well. As well as the end, that although stripped of title, riches, wife, etc, Pu Yi the gardener, the citizen of Red China, is now a free man, comes through well, too.One can find faults with this film - or to be more exact, what one would think are faults - but to list these would prove nothing. This film treads new ground. It is difficult to make, with three actors playing the same person. You have to watch this film, because it will improve the way you view other people, and you will see the tragedy of monarchy: that the monarch himself becomes little more than a specimen in a zoo - rather like the cricket kept in the jar underneath the throne. It will also whet your appetite to read "From Emperor to Citizen" which contains much information that the film could not show.
The last Emperor of China, Pu Yi, we now understand, was never anything more than a puppet. He wielded absolute power within his real realm -- a gilded cage of a palace -- but could never shape events except for tragedy to himself or to others. We see his life as one unlikely person, the one person that one would have most expect to have been insulated, in a gigantic tragedy -- that of China between the chaotic beginning of what might have been a long reign and the destructive Cultural Revolution of Mao, with coups, warlord rule, World War II, and the Marxist Revolution culminating in the <more>
rise of Mao. One recognizes that the pathologies of imperial China never truly died, but merely took new forms in the cult of the Leader. That the scenery is beautiful and hedonism among elites is rife hardly conceals the fact that China was a political Hell.Pu Yi, once the Emperor of the great but decrepit Chinese Empire, becomes Emperor of the Forbidden Palace in 1912 before he is expelled in one of many violent revolutions this one in 1925 in China. We see him doing a few things right, like reforming the Palace bureaucracy from a den of thieves into something honorable. He gets a superb adviser in Reginald Johnston, who gave him the confidence to be a political figure -- even a good one -- in the happiest time of his life. Johnston leaves as Pu Yi is expelled from the Palace, and eventually falls under the spell of the Japanese, who rip Manchuria from China and find someone willing to rule it in an enlightened manner -- himself. The Prime Minister of his choosing is killed, and Pu Yi becomes a puppet ruler of a contemptible entity. It's just like the old days, only the intriguers are worse -- far worse. The decrepitude of the system sets in at the first moment. As Emperor he can only accede to what his Japanese overlords demand. At the end of the war he is arrested by the Soviets because he dallies too long on unfinished business -- and after the 1949 Revolution he is sent back to China as a war criminal and traitor. Rather than being executed as one might expect he is sent to prison as a convict.As a prisoner he is incarcerated with some of his former underlings -- war criminals of the Manchukuo puppet state -- who have learned to ape the ideology of their captors, and he runs afoul of those 'fellow' inmates. Ex-fascists make the most fervent communists. All in all, he simplifies and becomes a very ordinary man in a society that punished anyone who challenged anything that the regime didn't want people to challenge. Pure puppet? Not quite. A dupe who never left when the going was good -- if the going was ever good -- and that is exactly what the Imperial role made him. In childhood the ruler of the greatest empire in population size, that is on Earth -- in a premature old age, a cipher. Then again, what else did most Chinese ever become in China during the first two thirds of the 20th century become -- ciphers, old before their time, wrecks of no fault of their own, just to survive.
An Oriental paradise that is wonderfully mastered to the screen. (by emm)
I guess I'm the only one who watched this from a worn out-of-print VHS copy. No matter what the quality, THE LAST EMPEROR is arguably among the best of the foreign pictures. The sights and sounds of The Forbidden City are sharp and beautifully screened right on with the provocative events that unfold the coming-of-age life of Pu Yi. It has plentiful moments including his romantic affairs with concubines and how he learns the way of the world as a child. His chronicle of a young emperor boy paints a colorful picture for the first half, only leading to more conflicting matters later, which <more>
is the most exciting part. Don't expect to see heads getting chopped off, like I thought would happen unless you have the longer DVD version , but the intensity of the talk surrounding it sounds horrifying and true. Nevertheless, the dialogue is clearly mystical. Every minute is a feel-good breeze through crafty cinematic art, but it ends too fast, and the narration from Pu Yi in his prison term could use a lot more detailing. Maybe I'll stick around longer and wait to see the Director's Cut which has more. Definitely a winning treat not to be missed for foreign movie lovers and collectors of premium filmfare.
Spoilers herein.These films always tear me. This is worth watching because it is so lush. The camera is rich in every element: framing, lighting, color, movement, composition are all almost elaborately designed. The effect is overwhelming lushness. The place looks far better here than it ever did in real life. In fact, the container is so incredibly rich, one wonders why the contents are so thin.And the reason I think is simply Italian filmmaking sensibilities. Beautiful is enough. The actors themselves are beautiful, and the idea of the historical sweep has a sort of beauty. But the actual <more>
story makes one wonder what was the point. Did anyone really care about it? The same thing can be said of `Kundun,' and that's clearly an artifact of Italian storytelling. The result is beautifully boring. When O'Toole is on stage. our eyes rest a bit and our souls get engaged. But he is already emaciated and a walking tragedy of waste, his own tragedy more hypnotizing in his brief moments than all the other character movements combined. Quite possibly, the story is weaker here than in most Bertolucci films because of Chinese sensitivities. Why was the ten years in the prison camp not shown as the grueling hard labor it was? Why was the treachery of Mao not mentioned. There's some slight self-reference when the `invasion' occurs: the invaders bring still and movie cameras.There's one scene that has stuck in my mind for 15 years, when Lone is in bed with his two very lovely wives, covered with an opulent cloth sensually undulating. One of the loveliest and most memorable moments in film. You get mesmerized by the shifting, polychromatic tones and shadows. Then it turns a passionate red, which in fact is the treasure of a 4,000 year old culture evaporating. Ted's evaluation: 3 of 4 -- Worth watching.