The Last Emperor (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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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.
Bernardo Bertolucci does the nearly impossible with this sweeping, grand epic that tells a very personal tale. The story is a dramatic history of Pu Yi, the last of the emperors of China. It follows his life from its elite beginnings in the Forbidden City, where he was crowned at age three and worshipped by half a billion people. He was later forced to abdicate and, unable to fend for himself in the outside world, became a dissolute and exploited shell of a man. He died in obscurity, living as a peasant in the People's Republic. We never really warm up to John Lone in the title role, but this movie focuses more on visuals than characterization anyway. Filmed in the Forbidden City, it is spectacularly beautiful, filling the screen with saturated colors and exquisite detail. It won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. --Rochelle O'Gorman
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Top Customer Reviews
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
The film forces a lot of challenging 're-thinking'.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
It's no wonder it won so many Academy Awards ! A must see film for anyone with even the slightest interest in China's history.Published 13 months ago by Gregory C.
beautifully filmed (recreating the Chinese Royal Palace); interesting story and well actedPublished 17 months ago by Sandra
A great cinematographic achievement. Immersive. A holistic movie experience.Published 22 months ago by jay
I had this movie on VHS but watching it on Blu-ray was almost like never having seen it before. I really appreciate the background information that is included in this release. Read morePublished on July 6 2014 by Ross Chapman
Our guide in China told us that this filmw was partially filmed in the Forbidden City so we thought we'd have a look at it. Read morePublished on June 7 2013 by Heidi Van Alstyne
NOT SURE IF IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A GOOD MOVIE TO SEE BEFORE WE LEFT FOR CHINA BUT IT BROUGHT BACK GREAT MEMORIES OF THE SITES WE SAW WHILE WE WERE THERE. Read morePublished on April 29 2013 by GAIL CATHERWOOD
I was very interested in learning about the last emperor and so I bought this tape to add to my collection of educational videos. Read morePublished on May 16 2011 by apple