The Last Emperor (1987)

Genres - Epic, Historical Film  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Historical Epic  |   Run Time - 219 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , Italy   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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In this unprecedented Sino-Western co-production, Bernardo Bertolucci turned the strange life of final Chinese crown ruler Pu Yi into a sumptuous epic. Shooting on location in China in the first Western production allowed to film in Beijing's Forbidden City, Bertolucci spent $25 million on lavish sets and costumes, as well as a cast of thousands, for a story spanning six decades, from Pu Yi's 1908 coronation to his 1960s life as a poor civilian. The story is structured through flashback memories as Pu Yi comes to grips with existence as a villain and commoner under Communism, and Vittorio Storaro's exquisite cinematography subtly underscores the emperor's rise and fall by shifting from a palette rich in reds, oranges, and yellows for Pu Yi's imperial years to somber blues and grays for his exile and imprisonment. Despite critical complaints that the story was lacking in emotional involvement, many viewers agreed that Bertolucci had created another visual marvel. Nominated for nine Oscars, The Last Emperor scored an unexpected sweep, winning all nine, including Best Picture and Best Director. An hour of footage cut from the release version was restored in the 1998 theatrical reissue reedited by Bertolucci.