The Last Emperor (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray) PG-13

1500 slaves. 353,260,000 royal subjects. Warlords. Concubines. And 2 wives. He was the loneliest boy in the world.
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Format:  Blu-ray
item number:  6CKF5
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Blu-ray Disc Features:

  • Rated: PG-13
  • Run Time: 2 hours, 43 minutes
  • Video: Color
  • Released: December 30, 2014
  • Originally Released: 1987
  • Label: Criterion Collection
  • Encoding: Region A

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:

Certified Fresh91%

Total Count: 66


User Ratings: 39,827
4 stars out of 5 -- [D]izzyingly respendent....Bernardo Bertolucci's 1987 heavyweight is, perhaps, the last known sighting of the old-school epic.
May 1, 2010
[T]here's no faulting the use of genuine locations, the magnificent costumes of Vittorio Storaro's breathtaking cinematography.
Total Film
Apr 1, 2004
Rating: 4/10 -- A modern filmmaker could have all the good qualities of this film but make it in Mandarin with a better, more compelling script and it could be an amazing film. Full Review
Feb 26, 2019
Rating: 4/4 -- If there is such a thing as voluptuous detachment, Bertolucci and John Lone have found it. Lone's achievement in his absorbing account of Pu Yi is to place him at a distance and yet make his plight totally involving. Full Review
Philadelphia Inquirer
Jan 7, 2014
...[The film] has the feel of other-worldliness, of science fiction...
Film Comment
Jul 1, 1987
As pure spectacle, "The Last Emperor" is a spellbinding peek behind the gate of a lost world. Full Review
New York Daily News
Feb 17, 2015
The most startling achievement of The Last Emperor is that it accomplishes what seems to have eluded Bertolucci for some time. He has found the small in the large and, in many ways, he has created what many thought impossible -- an intimate epic. Full Review
Boston Globe
Apr 26, 2018

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.

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.


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.
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