History and the Movies: The Last Emperor (1987)

LastEmperor_1987_22

To view The Last Emperor click here.

In 1987, Bernardo Bertolucci directed The Last Emperor, a movie about the life of Puyi, sometimes spelled as Pu Yi, who was the last emperor of China before it became a republic in 1911. The film was notable for having obtained permission from the Chinese government to film inside the Forbidden City, the storied site of the Imperial Palace. And possibly starting there, the movie began its clash with history, not so much by altering historical outcomes in the life of Puyi, but by leaving out information that might make the viewer less empathetic to those outcomes. Was this because Bertolucci was trying to placate the Chinese government and make sure he retained their permission to film? Possibly. Judging by how much of the real history is left in, though, it’s more likely that Bertolucci was trying to make a film about a child put into an impossible situation and leaving out disturbing facts that might make the audience a little less inclined to feel sorry for the small boy. For instance…

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Leadership classifications for (some, male) classic film protagonists


Really? Is that the subject of this Sunday’s blog post? Couldn’t it be about something a little more scintillating like: “Analyzing Sherwin Williams’ (paint) palette with respect to Technicolor’s” or “The History of Movie Sound Technology (and why the iPod generation will never be able to appreciate Sensurround)”? Or, if the subject is what follows below, couldn’t I have at least come up with a better title? Guess not. Hope you’ll read on anyway;-)

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