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The Last Emperor (1987)

The story of the final Emperor of China.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Won 9 Oscars. Another 47 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Ruocheng Ying ...
The Governor (as Ying Ruocheng)
...
Dennis Dun ...
Big Li
...
Amakasu (as Ryûichi Sakamoto)
Maggie Han ...
Eastern Jewel
...
Interrogator
...
Wen Hsiu (as Wu Jun Mei)
...
Chang (as Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa)
Jade Go ...
Ar Mo
Fumihiko Ikeda ...
Yoshioka
...
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.


Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

| | | |

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

15 April 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El último emperador  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$23,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$21,105 (USA) (27 November 1998)

Gross:

$43,984,230 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (television)

Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (70 mm prints)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to director of photography Vittorio Storaro in Visions of Light (1992), he used the phases of light to represent different stages of the emperor's life. Red, the color of the blood that starts the flashback and the opening doors it cuts to, represents birth. Orange is the warm color of his family and the forbidden city. Yellow is the color of the emperor's identity and the sun. Green, the color of the tutor's bike and hat, represents knowledge. The forbidden city only has the first three colors because it is a limited portion of reality. See more »

Goofs

When Pu Yi walks out on the terrace during his inauguration the counting of the "kowtow" starts. At the inauguration or coronation of the emperor 3 times 3 bows should be made but you can clearly hear the count until 11. See more »

Quotes

Pu Yi - 8 Years: Cricket! Where's the Cricket?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Writing with Light: Vittorio Storaro (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Auld Lang Syne
(uncredited)
Traditional Scottish ballad
In the score when Johnston says farewell to Pu Yi
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Life Of China's Last Emperor
28 August 2010 | by (Durham Region, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

This is somewhat long and generally lacking in excitement, but it's beautifully filmed and it serves as a fascinating look at the life of Pu Yi - the last Emperor of China, who came to the throne in 1908 when he was three years old, and finally died in 1967 as a gardener in Communist China, after serving 10 years in a PRC prison being ideologically "re- educated." Much of the story is told in flash-backs taken from his interrogation by Communist officials in the PRC prison. Much attention is paid to Reginald Johnston's book "Twilight in the Forbidden City." Johnston (played in the movie by Peter O'Toole) was Pu Yi's Scottish tutor.

John Lone's performance as Pu Yi was very good. Not surprising perhaps for someone who became an emperor at such a young age, Pu Yi is depicted as one who is used to comfort and used to having his way - a characteristic he seems to have retained for most of his life, although he doesn't really come across as bad or arrogant; just as someone who never learned how to care for himself or treat others as equals. I suppose it would be hard to expect a child who was treated almost like a god from the age of 3 to grow up psychologically well adjusted. He was actually overthrown not much more than a decade after coming to the throne but I appreciated learning that although he abdicated when the Nationalist revolution took place, he retained his title and it seems as though the Forbidden City remained his "Empire." He continued to rule this little enclave within Beijing, much as the Pope rules a little enclave within Rome. That was very interesting.

There was a lot of attention to Pu Yi's accession as "Emperor of Manchukuo" in 1934. He became a puppet of the Japanese, who placed him on the throne to give Manchukuo a semblance of credibility but no freedom, was captured by the Soviets at the end of the war, and finally handed over to PRC officials in 1950, his transfer to Chinese authority being where the movie begins.

Near the end of the movie there's a truly fascinating scene depicting a small portion of the work of Mao's "Red Guards" during the so-called Cultural Revolution that was quite sobering. I was disappointed, though, with the way this ended. It chose to conclude on a sort of fantasy scene, where Pu Yi returns to the Forbidden City. I suppose it was meant as a way of saying that at his death he returned home, but I found it a weak ending rather than a heartwarming one, perhaps because while his life was interesting, I can't say that I developed any warm feelings or sympathy for Pu Yi by watching this.


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