Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
China/Italy/United Kingdom/France, 1987. Recorded Picture Company, Hemdale, Yanco Films Limited, , Screenframe, AAA Soprofilms. Screenplay by Bernardo Bertolucci, Mark Peploe, collaboration with Enzo Ungari, based on the autobiography From Emperor To Citizen, The Autobiography of Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi by Henry Pu-Yi. Cinematography by Vittorio Storaro. Produced by Jeremy Thomas. Music by David Byrne, Ryûichi Sakamoto, Cong Su. Production Design by Ferdinando Scarfiotti. Costume Design by James Acheson. Film Editing by Gabriella Cristiani.
The life of the last emperor of China before the Cultural Revolution is told in this stunningly beautiful epic by Bernardo Bertolucci. It goes from his days in the royal palace through to his teenage life in the snazzy China of the 1930s, detailing just how much of a prisoner he was to the life he was born into. Peter O’Toole co-stars as the western tutor to the adult emperor (John Lone). Bertolucci’s epic is dazzling for the eye and ear, though the pacing leaves something to be desired and the running time can take its toll on your patience (the director’s cut even more so).
The Criterion Collection: #422
Academy Awards: Best Picture; Best Director (Bernardo Bertolucci); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Cinematography; Best Art Direction; Best Costume Design; Best Film Editing; Best Sound; Best Original Score
European Film Award: Special Prize of the Jury
Golden Globe Awards: Best Picture-Drama; Best Director (Bernardo Bertolucci); Best Screenplay; Best Original Score
Nomination: Best Actor-Drama (John Lone)