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The Last Emperor (1987) - movie overview

The Last Emperor (1987)

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Plot Description

Release Date
Nov 20, 1987 (USA)
DVD Release Date
 R1: Feb 23, 1999
 R2: 24 May 2004

Budget $25,000,000

MPAA Rating

Running Time
2 hours, 40 minutes

Country Hong Kong, France, Italy, UK

Studio Columbia Pictures

More info on

Other Titles
• The Last Emperor
• Der Letzte Kaiser (1987)

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Genre: Drama, Epic, Biography, Political, True Story, Period Piece, Marriage, World War II, Drugs, Prison, Murder, Culture Clash, Infidelity

Tagline: 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.

Plot: Although it is 160 minutes long and shot with breathtaking scope and sumptuousness, Bertolucci's film is a story about claustrophobia. Pu Yi, the Manchurian emperor of China who ascended the throne in 1908 at the age of three, is a prisoner in the palace he rules over. Outside, real power changes hands with each coup d'etat. Pu Yi grows to manhood, is tutored by a Westerner (Peter O'Toole), and marries a gorgeous princess (Joan Chen). However, the adult Pu Yi (John Lone) is destined for a communist reeducation camp when the war is over. From start to finish, Pu Yi is a passive antihero who can never come to grips with the idea that the absolute power conferred on him as a child was only a mirage. The mistakes Pu Yi made trying to realize that power, especially collaborating with the Japanese during the war, provide Bertolucci with the chance to explore his familiar theme of collaboration and its moral consequences (as he did in THE CONFORMIST and 1900). In the end, Pu Yi seems to have reached a kind of peace, and the terrible waste of a special man's life disappears into a drab, grey-clad Beijing.

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 Directed by
Bernardo Bertolucci
The Dreamers, Last Tango in Paris, Stealing Beauty
 Written by
Mark Peploe
The Sheltering Sky, Profession: reporter, Afraid of the Dark
Joan Chen
Judge Dredd, Twin Peaks, On Deadly Ground
Peter O'Toole
Troy, Lawrence of Arabia, Caligula
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
Pearl Harbor, Planet of the Apes, Elektra
John Lone
Rush Hour 2, The Shadow, King Kong
Ruocheng Ying
Little Buddha
Victor Wong
Big Trouble in Little China, Tremors, Seven Years in Tibet
Dennis Dun
Big Trouble in Little China, Prince of Darkness, Year of the Dragon
 Music By
David Byrne
Married to the Mob, Young Adam, Dead End Kids
Ryuichi Sakamoto
Snake Eyes, Femme Fatale, Little Buddha
Cong Su
Lü cha, Shou ji, Mo li hua kai



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