The Last Emperor
The Last Emperor
Tracing the life of China’s last emperor Pu Yi from his ascension to the throne in 1908 at age three to his death in 1967, Bernardo Bertolucci’s cinematic epic—recently restored in 4K in its original aspect ratio—is a sumptuous and affecting account of some of the most eventful and consequential decades in 20th century Chinese history. The legendary production, headed by Jeremy Thomas, features performances by John Lone, Joan Chen, Peter O’Toole, and Ryuichi Sakamoto, the latter of whom also wrote the film’s memorable soundtrack alongside David Byrne and Cong Su. Song Huai-Kuei, featured in the Special Exhibition Madame Song: Pioneering Art and Fashion in China, gave a cameo performance as the Empress Dowager Longyu. As the first non-Chinese film to be shot on location in the Forbidden City, The Last Emperor won Academy Awards in 1988 in all nine categories in which it was nominated, including Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score.
About the Director
Bernardo Bertolucci (1941–2018, Italy) was one of the most important filmmakers of the 20th century. He began his extraordinary 50-year career as an assistant director to Italian filmmaker, poet, and public intellectual Pier Paolo Pasolini and made his first feature at age 21. His films often explored ideas surrounding politics, class conflict, and sexuality, as seen in The Conformist (1970), Last Tango in Paris (1972), 1900 (1976), and The Dreamers (2003). Known for his collaborations with cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and art director Ferdinando Scarfiotti, Bertolucci produced many films that have garnered both international and critical acclaim, perhaps most notably for the multi-award-winning epic The Last Emperor (1987).
Image at top: Bernardo Bertolucci. The Last Emperor, 1987. Photo: Courtesy of Edko Films Ltd. Copyright ©️ MCMLXXXVII All Rights Reserved