The Last Emperor – Criterion Collection

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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 d

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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 F… More >>

The Last Emperor – Criterion Collection

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  1. I watched the original version of this film and I can’t really figure out why they would want to add another long dull hour to it. I didn’t enjoy this movie much, mainly because I didn’t feel any sympathy at all for the character. Maybe it’s me, but when I can’t relate on any kind of level to the people I’m watching on the screen, I don’t have a very good time. The fact that it was an agonizing three hours long didn’t help. I can see why this film won so many awards, though. It was very well done technically. The cinematography, sound, screenplay, etc., were all of high order, and the movie overall seemed to be well made. I just wish the people in it hadn’t been so distant.
    Rating: 2 / 5

  2. Video quality wasn’t the worst or best I have seen, movie is rather boring. Overall I would not recomend this at all.
    Rating: 2 / 5

  3. This film is too aware of the epic proportions of its story. This is a shame because the story is a fascinating one. It tells of Pu Y, who became China’s last emperor during the early part of the 20th century. He lived in the Forbidden City, unknowlegable of the world and even the country around him. As a very young child and through his teens he had everything done for him, but then is pitched away when the country becomes involved in war. Not aware of life it becomes an uphill task to accustom himself. The story is incredible and actually excellent material for a mini-series. And, unlike a lot of mini-series would not be boring or stretched beyond interest. There is a lot of material here. But rather than rely on that material, director Bernardo Bertolucci elects to ignore the foundation and depend instead on never letting the audience forget the size of the tale. We are as an audience, therefore, put off everytime the story moves to a new plateau. We are forced to ask questions that are not answered because he attempts to cram too much spectacle into a three-hour movie.Technically, the film is superior. Its costumes, art direction and editing are incomparable. The music score co-written by David Byrne (formerly of the rock band, Talking Heads) is also superb. But it’s the cinematography that is really the thing here. If it wasn’t for that, the few bare threads of the original story that do come through would have been non-existant, leaving the film as shallow as they come.But the characters are the thing here and they become mere backdrops for Bertolucci’s overblown self-awareness. It’s not that Pu Y comes across cold and distant as some critics have remarked. And it’s certainly not John Lone’s very brave performance of said character that creates problems. It is simply the overall flatness of the characters. They have no dimension. Whether its the otherwise excellent editing or the director-penned screenplay (more likely) the film is, for this critic, GREATLY lacking in depth.There is a “director’s cut” available on DVD. But the hopes for improvements have been greatly diminished by the opinion of some of the reviews that have been written.So, in short, if you want to see how cinematography and other technical qualities can save a movie, see this film. If you are looking for character development and interaction, forget it!
    Rating: 3 / 5

  4. The books that I have seen that told the life of Pu Yi have differed from this film. I guess that it does admirably at asking this question: What caused this man to become a sidekick to Hirohito? How could he have brought such harm to his empire, China, and his dear homeland, Manchuria?

    I have to say that I detest the gratuitous erotic scenes in this movie. They seem to want to you believe, for one thing, that there was something Oedipal about his relationship with his wet-nurse. Perverted.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  5. Criterion has done it again. Its blu-ray of The Last Emperor finally does justice to one of the few great films produced since the movie business went downhill in the 1980s, and is now giving us such sickening garbage as Hostel and Saw. The only caveat – Criterion may want to relook its packaging for Blu-ray discs; it’s a big step down from the gorgeous package it delivered for the earlier DVD release of The Last Emperor – it has become so obvious just how mediocre and obsolete that the DVD format is now that we have Blu-ray. Here’s hoping Criterion re-releases The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and The Magnificent Obsession on Blu-ray – and quickly!!
    Rating: 5 / 5

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