Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
The Empress Dowager tells the story of the last imperial family member who actually ruled in China until her death in 1908. She handed over the titular rulership to Kuang Tsu but retained all actual power. Retaining power seems to have been her real talent; she was unable to reform the Ching (Manchu) Dynasty and its system of government to meet the challenges of European dominance in Asia. The Empress Dowager was a fascinating, dominant woman in a male-oriented culture and she was a brilliant manipulator. This movie shows some of her intrigues, one of which prevented China from defending itself from the Japanese and led directly to the first Chinese revolution in 1911.