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The Last Emperor (Widescreen Director's Cut)

3.8 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: John Lone, Joan Chen, Peter O'Toole, Ruocheng Ying, Victor Wong
  • Directors: Bernardo Bertolucci
  • Writers: Bernardo Bertolucci, Enzo Ungari, Henry Pu-yi, Mark Peploe
  • Producers: Franco Giovale, Jeremy Thomas, John Daly
  • Format: Color, Director's Cut, Dolby, DVD-Video, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Artisan
  • Release Date: Feb. 23 1999
  • Run Time: 218 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews
  • ASIN: 6305261032
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #26,394 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Amazon.ca

Everything that was good about the 163-minute theatrical release of Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor in 1987 is even better in this new 218-minute director's cut. By contrast, much that was peculiarly distant and lifeless the first time around isn't really better or worse in this edition. Conclusion: the net gains are considerable if you invest time to appreciate Bertolucci's full feeling for the odd story of Pu Yi, China's final monarch. You remember the saga: taken from his mother at the age of three, Pu Yi is brought into the enclosed walls of the Forbidden City to replace the real emperor. There he becomes a pampered prisoner and hollow symbol of an older monarchy that has since given way to a ruthless, 20th century republic. With his pining loyalists beheaded or kept at bay by armed soldiers outside the City's walls, Pu Yi is tutored by an English gentleman (Peter O'Toole) and wed to a kindred spirit (Joan Chen). Eventually cast from his gated paradise, Pu Yi (wonderfully portrayed in adulthood by John Lone) becomes, by turns, a playboy, a dupe to the Japanese, and a victim of China's cultural reforms and re-education programs. This longer cut largely top-loads the film with greater reason to feel compassion for the emperor, with his often wordless sense-adventure in the mysteries that could only be known to one little boy plunged into indecipherable alien decorum, robbed of self-determination and common sense by his infinite privilege. Added scenes (including some in the political rehabilitation camp where Pu Yi is held for a decade) fill out not so much added facts as density of experience. This improved The Last Emperor is richer in soul and a pronounced sense of Bertolucci actually directing this film in the most personal and profound sense. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray
First off, Criterion does their usual impeccable job with both the transfer
and the extras on this new disc.

There is some interesting controversy about aspect ratios and cuts with various
releases of the film. The Criterion releases have been reformatted from
the original 2:35 to 2:1, but it was done at the request of, and under the
supervision of cinematographer Vittorio Storaro.

Also, the Criterion BR doesn't have the longer Italian TV cut, but the
2 disc Criterion DVD does.

Then there is the 2 disc Optimum UK DVD set which has the film in
it's original 2:35 theatrical ratio (and a quite nice transfer, if not quite
up to Criterion's quality.) It also contains the longer TV cut, but in a
transfer much weaker than the Criterion DVD.

Now, as for the film itself...

I can understand someone loving "The Last Emperor" (as I do), or being
bored stiff. Visually ravishing, it is an epic film about an empty man,
the last emperor of China Pu Yi.

Raised from birth with no real experience of the outside world, trained
only to fulfill his role as a symbolic figurehead, we watch Pu Yi swept
along by the great tides of history in the 20th century east. Only
after going through ten years 're-education' at the hands of the
Chinese communists does he start to seem connected to the world and to
himself.

The film forces a lot of challenging 're-thinking'.
Read more ›
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By Cheryl TOP 100 REVIEWER on July 21 2009
Format: Blu-ray
I wish all blu-rays had this feature, but so far Last Emperor is the only disc I own where under Timeline you can add and delete your own bookmarks (utilizing the remote's green & blue buttons). It makes for easy access to your favourite scenes or where you last left off. The epic itself is a huge cinematic achievement and deserved of the additional blu-ray features which also include numerous documentaries and featurettes (over 4 hrs. worth).
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Format: VHS Tape
This film is too aware of the epic proportions of its story. This is a shame because the story is a fascinating one. It tells of Pu Y, who became China's last emperor during the early part of the 20th century. He lived in the Forbidden City, unknowlegable of the world and even the country around him. As a very young child and through his teens he had everything done for him, but then is pitched away when the country becomes involved in war. Not aware of life it becomes an uphill task to accustom himself. The story is incredible and actually excellent material for a mini-series. And, unlike a lot of mini-series would not be boring or stretched beyond interest. There is a lot of material here. But rather than rely on that material, director Bernardo Bertolucci elects to ignore the foundation and depend instead on never letting the audience forget the size of the tale. We are as an audience, therefore, put off everytime the story moves to a new plateau. We are forced to ask questions that are not answered because he attempts to cram too much spectacle into a three-hour movie.Technically, the film is superior. Its costumes, art direction and editing are incomparable. The music score co-written by David Byrne (formerly of the rock band, Talking Heads) is also superb. But it's the cinematography that is really the thing here. If it wasn't for that, the few bare threads of the original story that do come through would have been non-existant, leaving the film as shallow as they come.But the characters are the thing here and they become mere backdrops for Bertolucci's overblown self-awareness. It's not that Pu Y comes across cold and distant as some critics have remarked. And it's certainly not John Lone's very brave performance of said character that creates problems.Read more ›
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By A Customer on March 12 2004
Format: DVD
I bought the director's-cut dvd and I wish I hadn't. The movie was long around 3hrs and 20 mins, and the added scenes from the director's cut didn't make any difference in making the movie any better. I thought the movie moved quite slowly. In the beginning of the movie I thought it was obscene how the emperor Pu Yi's wet nurse kept showing her breast, I thought that it was quite indecent, especially when she breast fed him when he was already 7 or 8 years old. I guess my reaction was due to culture shock. After watching this movie I learned that the emperor Pu Yi really had quite a sad life, he was king but that title didn't bring him much happiness. He was used by the Japanese, he couldn't trust his servants, and in the end he was treated like a commoner. In the end it was so heart breaking when he had lost it all (all his wealth, respect, loved ones, etc.) I truly do feel for him. Even though I thought the whole move was slow and boring, the sad ending made the whole story and the experiences in his life meaningful. The ending is what ties it all together and make you look at your life in a whole different light. After having watched this movie I learn to appreciate the things that I have in my life and the people whom I share my life with. I have a greater appreciation of these things because I've learned from the movie that people and material possessions may not always last and be with you forever, so don't take anything or anyone for granted. This is a story of riches to rags. John Lone is a great actor in the movie, his acting was so genuine and believable, you'd think he really was the emperor of China. Overall, this was a boring movie but it brought great meaning to the words "Life" and "Destiny". If you think your life sucks right now, watch this movie and you'll appreciate what God has given you.
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