The Last Emperor
Benson and Moorhead Selects • Drama, History
1987 • China • Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci
Director of The Spider’s Stratagem, The Conformist, and Last Tango in Paris, Bernardo Bertolucci was one of the greats of Italian cinema. In 1987 his acclaimed epic The Last Emperor – made with British producer Jeremy Thomas (Naked Lunch, Crash) – swept the 60th Academy Awards winning nine Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director.
Following the life of Pu Yi, the last of the Emperors of China, from his birth in 1908 through his childhood in the fortress-like Forbidden City and his later misguided collaboration with the Japanese in World War II, The Last Emperor tells the history of China through the eyes of the man brought up to believe he was the country’s divine ruler.
Filmed on location in China, Bertolucci and Thomas were the first western filmmakers to be allowed access to previously forbidden locations. Together with a cast including John Lone, Joan Chen and Peter O’Toole, and director of photography Vittorio Storaro’s lushly evocative cinematography, they created a classic film of sweeping scope and delicate intimacy that stunned critics and audiences alike.