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Bernardo Bertolucci

The Last Emperor

Director Bernardo Bertolucci Composer David Byrne, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Cong Su Cast John Lone, Joan Chen, Peter O'Toole
163' - 1987 - Historical, Drama, Biography - Dialogue: Mandarin, English, Japanese
This is the story of Pu Yi, the last ruler of the Chinese Ching Dynasty. The film covers the years 1908 to 1967. We see the 3-year-old Pu Yi being installed in the Forbidden City by ruthless, dying dowager Empress Tzu-Hsui. Though he'd prefer to lark about like other boys, the infant emperor is cosseted and cajoled into accepting the responsibilities and privileges of his office. In 1912 the young emperor - forced to abdicate when China is declared a republic - is a prisoner in his own palace, “protected” from the outside world. Pu Yi plots an escape from his cocoon by means of marriage. He selects Manchu descendant Wan Jung, who likewise is anxious to experience the 20th century rather than be locked into the past by tradition.

Image gallery

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Bernardo Bertolucci


David Byrne, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Cong Su


John Lone, Joan Chen, Peter O'Toole


Bernardo Bertolucci, Enzo Ungari, Mark Peploe

Director of Photography

Vittorio Storaro


Gabriella Cristiani


Jeremy Thomas

More info


Mandarin, English, Japanese

Countries of production

Italy, China, United Kingdom, France

Screenplay based on

"From Emperor to Citizen, The Autobiography of Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi" (Pu Yi)




Bernardo Bertolucci
The Death of a Pig (short, 1956), The Cable (short, 1956), The Grim Reaper (1962), Before the Revolution (1964), Il canale (short, 1966), Partner (1968), Amore e rabbia (1969), The Conformist (1970), The Spider's Stratagem (1970), La salute è malata (short, 1971), Last Tango in Paris (1972), 1900 (1976), Luna (1979), Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man (1981), Farewell to Enrico Berlinguer (1984), The Last Emperor (1987), 12 Directors for 12 Cities (1989), The Sheltering Sky (1990), Little Buddha (1993), Stealing Beauty (1996), Besieged (1998), Ten Minutes Older: The Cello (2002), The Dreamers (2003), Me and You (2012), Venice 70: Future Reloaded (2013)