The Last Emperor (1987)

The Last Emperor Poster

A dramatic history of Puyi, the last of the Emperors of China, from his lofty birth and brief reign in the Forbidden City, the object of worship by half a billion people; through his abdication, his decline and dissolute lifestyle; his exploitation by the invading Japanese, and finally to his obscure existence as just another peasant worker in the People's Republic.

Introduction to "The Last Emperor"
"The Last Emperor" is a 1987 impressive biographical film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, telling the story of Aisin-Gioro Puyi, the last Emperor of China. This visually sensational work of art is based on Puyi's autobiography, "From Emperor to Resident", and it passes through the tumultuous history of China from completion of the Qing Dynasty to the Cultural Transformation. This movie gained important honor and was a recipient of nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Puyi's Childhood and Ascension to the Throne
The movie opens with the three-year-old Puyi being named the Emperor of China in 1908, and the young kid is quickly drawn from his mother's side to enter the Forbidden City. The story then moves back and forth in time, juxtaposing Puyi's upbringing within the palace walls-- a life of tremendous advantage and stringent protocol-- while also exploring the psychological effect of such seclusion and power on a child.

As a confined emperor ignorant of the world beyond his palace, Puyi grows up surrounded by luxury, yet experiences little love and deals with isolation-- his every action is managed and he is treated as an object instead of a child. The only peek the young emperor gets of the outside world is through his Scottish tutor, Reginald Johnston, who introduces him to Western ideas and principles.

The Downfall of Imperial China
The movement of time reveals Puyi's fragile position as the transformation in 1911 puts an end to the imperial system. Forced to abdicate the throne at the age of 6, he is allowed to stay in the Forbidden City and retains his title in a symbolic style. The deposed emperor comes across the dichotomy of his royal past and the altering political landscape, leading to an identity crisis. He quickly ends up being a puppet ruler for the Japanese in the puppet state of Manchukuo however ultimately winds up as a prisoner of war.

Puyi's Transformation and Re-education
Following his capture by Soviet forces and later on by the Chinese communists, Puyi goes through a prolonged duration of re-education. The film precisely captures the emotional battle and confusion Puyi faces as he learns the plain truth about the exploitation that occurred throughout his reign, and the suffering of his people. Progressively, he adopts a newly found point of view on his life and previous actions and begins to show regret and a determination to change.

Redemption and Historical Relevance
The movie culminates with an older Puyi going back to the Forbidden City as a citizen after his release. He reflects on his complex life from being an emperor, to a prisoner, to a normal citizen. His personal redemption mirrors the troubled shifts in China's own identity, transitioning through monarchical rule, occupation, and revolution, to find its location in a new world order.

"The Last Emperor", while personalized through Puyi's experiences, also provides a compelling commentary on the cultural and political metamorphoses of 20th century China. Bertolucci prospers in creating a film that is not only a person's tale however also a representation of a nation's journey through immense historic change.

Concluding Remarks
Bertolucci's "The Last Emperor" is not simply a historic recount of a bygone period however a rich, mental exploration of identity, power, and improvement. The remarkable life of Puyi functions as a narrative lorry to illustrate the wider shifts within a nation experiencing the uncomfortable pangs of modernization. With its powerful efficiencies, charming cinematography, and thoughtful direction, the film stays a considerable cinematic accomplishment that resonates with audiences captivated by the ups and downs of history.

Top Cast