The Last Emperor (L’ultimo imperatore) is a 1987 epic biographical drama film about Puyi, China’s penultimate Emperor. Bernardo Bertolucci directed it from a script he co-wrote with Mark Peploe, which was based on Puyi’s 1964 autobiography, while Jeremy Thomas produced it independently.
Puyi’s life is shown in the film, from his ascension to the throne as a tiny kid through his imprisonment and political rehabilitation by the Chinese Communist Party. It starred John Lone, Peter O’Toole, Joan Chen, Ruocheng Ying, Victor Wong, Dennis Dun, Vivian Wu, Lisa Lu, and Ryuichi Sakamoto, who also wrote the film soundtrack alongside David Byrne and Cong Su. It was the first Western feature film permitted by the People’s Republic of China to be shot in Beijing’s Forbidden City.
The Last Emperor premiered at the 1987 Tokyo International Film Festival and was distributed in the United States on November 18 by Columbia Pictures. It received mostly favorable reviews from reviewers and was a commercial success. It won nine Oscars at the 60th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. In addition, it received three BAFTA Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, nine David di Donatello Awards, and a Grammy Award for its musical score. At the 2013 Cannes Picture Festival, the film was transformed into 3D and shown in the Cannes Classics section.