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The Last Emperor [Blu-ray] [Criterion Collection]

  • PG-13
  • Blu-ray
  • 1 disc
  • Region 1 USA/CA (info)
  • Although it is 160 minutes long and shot with breathtaking scope and sumptuousness, 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.

    Academy Awards Best Art Direction - Set Decoration 1987
    Academy Awards Best Film Editing 1987
    Academy Awards Best Picture 1987
    Academy Awards Best Sound 1987
    Academy Awards Best Original Score 1987 David Byrne American Singer/Songwriter
    Academy Awards Best Original Score 1987 Ryuichi Sakamoto Japanese Composer/Actor
    Academy Awards Best Costume Design 1987 James Acheson Supporting actor, KAZAAM/IN THE SHADOW OF THE COBRA
    Academy Awards Best Adapted Screenplay 1987 Bernardo Bertolucci Italian Director, LAST TANGO IN PARIS (1972)
    Academy Awards Best Director 1987 Bernardo Bertolucci Italian Director, LAST TANGO IN PARIS (1972)
    Academy Awards Best Adapted Screenplay 1987 Mark Peploe Director/Screenwriter

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    • Rating - Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 1779

  • Credits
    John Lone, Joan Chen, Chen Chong, Peter O'Toole, Dennis Dun, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Victor Wong, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
  • Critic Reviews
    "...Numbingly beautiful....Sumptuous chinoiserie..." -- Rating: B+
    Entertainment Weekly

    "...A film of unique, quite unsurpassed visual splendor, THE LAST EMPEROR makes for a fascinating trip to another world..."
    Variety

    "...[The film] has the feel of other-worldliness, of science fiction..."
    Film Comment

    "...If you want a staggering and certainly singular movie experience, THE LAST EMPEROR will do very nicely..."
    Los Angeles Times

    "[T]here's no faulting the use of genuine locations, the magnificent costumes of Vittorio Storaro's breathtaking cinematography."
    Total Film

    4 stars out of 5 -- "[D]izzyingly respendent....Bernardo Bertolucci's 1987 heavyweight is, perhaps, the last known sighting of the old-school epic."
    Empire

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