The Last Emperor (Blu-ray, Criterion Collection)
Starring: John Lone Director: Bernardo Bertolucci  Rated: R: Restricted

The Last Emperor (Blu-ray, Criterion Collection)
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Format:  Blu-ray
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Blu-ray Disc Features:

  • Rated: R
  • Run Time: 2 hours, 44 minutes
  • Video: Color
  • Released:
  • Originally Released: 1987
  • Label: Criterion
  • DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 - English
Additional Release Material:
  • Additional Footage - Bertolucci Video Images - China
  • Audio Commentary - Bernardo Bertolucci, Director; Jeremy Thomas, Producer;
    • Mark Peploe, Screenwriter; Ryuichi Sakamoto, Actor/Composer
  • Documentary:
    2. Behind The Scenes Design/Art Production
    3. Making of THE LAST EMPEROR
    • Fernand Mozskowicz, Director
  • Interview - Bernardo Bertolucci, Director - 1989; David Byrne, Composer;
    • Ian Buruma, Writer
  • Trailers - Theatrical Trailer
Additional Product:
  • Booklet - Essay - David Thomson, Critic

Performers, Cast and Crew:

Performer: , , , , &
Directed by
Music by &
Screenwriting by

Major Awards:

Academy Awards 1987 - Best Adapted Screenplay: Bernardo Bertolucci & Mark Peploe
Academy Awards 1987 - Best Art Direction - Set Decoration
Academy Awards 1987 - Best Cinematography: Vittorio Storaro
Academy Awards 1987 - Best Costume Design: James Acheson
Academy Awards 1987 - Best Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Academy Awards 1987 - Best Film Editing
Academy Awards 1987 - Best Original Score
Academy Awards 1987 - Best Picture
Academy Awards 1987 - Best Sound

Entertainment Reviews:

Entertainment Weekly - 03/05/1999
"...Numbingly beautiful....Sumptuous chinoiserie..." -- Rating: B+
Variety - 10/07/1987
"...A film of unique, quite unsurpassed visual splendor, THE LAST EMPEROR makes for a fascinating trip to another world..."
Film Comment - 07/01/1987
"...[The film] has the feel of other-worldliness, of science fiction..."
Los Angeles Times - 11/29/1987
"...If you want a staggering and certainly singular movie experience, THE LAST EMPEROR will do very nicely..."
Total Film - 04/01/2004
"[T]here's no faulting the use of genuine locations, the magnificent costumes of Vittorio Storaro's breathtaking cinematography."
Empire - 05/01/2010
4 stars out of 5 -- "[D]izzyingly respendent....Bernardo Bertolucci's 1987 heavyweight is, perhaps, the last known sighting of the old-school epic."

Product Description:

Although it is 160 minutes long and shot with breathtaking scope and sumptuousness, Bernardo 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.

Description by Image Entertainment / Criterion Collection :

Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor won nine Academy Awards®, unexpectedly sweeping every category in which it was nominated-quite a feat for a challenging, multilayered epic directed by an Italian and starring an international cast. Yet the power and scope of the film was, and remains, undeniable-the life of Emperor Pu Yi, who took the throne at age three, in 1908, before witnessing decades of cultural and political upheaval, within and without the walls of the Forbidden City. Recreating Ching-dynasty China with astonishing detail and unparalleled craftsmanship by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and production designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti, The Last Emperor is also an intimate character study of one man reconciling personal responsibility and political legacy.

Plot Synopsis:

THE LAST EMPEROR is the true story of Pu Yi, the last monarch of a China that changed drastically during his lifetime. Though he comes to power at the age of three and is waited on hand and foot by an army of servants and consorts, Pu Yi is politically powerless. His life becomes a tortuous struggle with this reality, as he is used as a puppet by the Japanese and later reeducated by the communists. Bernardo Bertolucci's award-winning film is epic, lavish, and poignant.

Plot Keywords:

Character Study | China | Epic | Essential Cinema | Orient | Period Piece | Politics | Recommended | Royalty | Theatrical Release | True Story

Production Notes:

  • The film premiered on the closing night of the Tokyo International Film Festival, October 4, 1987.
  • Bertolucci shot the film on location, and the Chinese government allowed him to film in the Forbidden City, which for years had been closed to tourists and non-Chinese, and which had never before been filmed.
  • Most critics agreed that this film contained one of the most lavish production designs in cinema history. Many of the costumes were Chinese originals, and the estimated budget was $25 million.
  • This was Bertolucci's first film since TRAGEDY OF A RIDICUCLOUS MAN (1981), and it ended his six-year hiatus from directing.
  • A longer director's cut of THE LAST EMPEROR was released in the United States in 1998.
Criterion Collection

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