movie film review | chris tookey
 
     
     
 

Last Emperor


Unknown - all rights reserved
     
  Last Emperor   Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
 
Average Rating
8.38 /10
 
Starring
John Lone (Pu Yi as a man), Joan Chen , Peter O'Toole
Full Cast >
 

Directed by: Bernardo Bertolucci
Written by: Mark Peploe, Bernardo Bertolucci


 
 
 
Released: 1987
   
Genre: DRAMA
COSTUME
BIOPIC
EPIC
   
Origin: Italy/ Hong Kong/ GB
   
Length: 227
 
 


 

The life of China's last Emperor , Pu Yi (John Lone).

Reviewed by Chris Tookey

Bookmark and Share

A gorgeous spectacle - but very tedious and much too long, even in its shorter version. One of the biggest problems is endemic to the material; the central character is passive and therefore unsympathetic, while the story of his life lacks any conventional dramatic structure. There is something comic about his passivity, yet the screenplay and direction never betrays enough sense of humour to explore this; it is too busy pointing out the constricting, imprisoning nature of privilege (a point made quite exquisitely within seconds of the start). The political stance of the film is, in fact, worryingly blinkered. It must be one of the few films ever to take a sympathetic view of Communist brainwashing; the Emperor's demotion to being a gardener is depicted as a terrific idea. Would Bertolucci like it if someone tried to "re-educate" him out of his beliefs? Other faults are the hurried narrative of the second half, and a tendency to ignore aspects of the real Emperor's personality (such as his sadistic and homosexual tendencies) which don't fit in with the film-makers' thesis. Vittorio Storaro's breathtaking cinematography well deserved its Academy Award - and the film also won Oscars for score, editing, art direction, costumes and sound. Despite its nine Oscars and a BAFTA Award for best Film, it failed to make much of an impression at the box office.


Key to Symbols