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The Last Emperor

Posted by admin on May 10, 2012


As much as I like Harry Potter, there is one psychological aspect that the story that is not addressed often. The fact that Harry is raised by the school to believe he is the chosen one to defeat Voldemort. What goes wrong is that many adults, including professors treat him like Jesus Christ. Though he may have survived a terrible attack that killed his parents, doing that to him ended up putting a lot of stress and pressure on him. Yet they still expected him to be an ordinary student. That is something I would have to seen explored more in the Harry Potter franchise. What I wanted was found in The Last Emperor.

Released in 1987, this academy award-winning epic follows the last emperor of China before it became known as the communist country it is today. I have never traveled to China, but I’ve been fascinated by it. From it’s long traditions, beautiful scenery and grand architecture; China has become the powerful dragon that sits in the East. This story could have been told through a textbook if you wanted to know everything. I’m glad I got to see this through the eyes of the monarch.

Pu Yi was handpicked to become the next ruler in the Forbidden City. But he was selected at the infancy of two. So plucked from his home, he moves from the lower flats into the grand palace. Immediately, he is bowed to by everyone in site. His people are at his command. As far as he knows, the world is his. For the first hour, we see the growth of this young man as he’s raised as an emperor, and the consequences he faces. From the sadness of his wet nurse leaving to the educational tutoring of his professor (played by Peter O’Toole), he struggles to have emotions and still assume to symbol of the monarch.

The second part of the movie deals with his expulsion from the Forbidden City, his term as emperor of the Japanese-puppet state, Manchukuo, and his years as a political prisoner. I’ll stop with the story, so you’ll have to find it yourself. The movie is as beautiful as it deserves to be. I don’t just feel like I’m watching a historical movie. I really feel like I’ve been transported to a time that China once forgot. An interesting piece of trivia states that this was the first Western film production that was allowed to use the real Forbidden City as set. The result pays off as this is one of the best-photographed movies I’ve seen.

The Last Emperor is more then a historical lesson. It is the study of a man who was raised to have everything, only to have it all taken away. True, Harry Potter did have everything taken away, but that was a fantasy and this at least has the real life politics and struggles that went through for Pu Yi. If he is no longer an emperor, that what is he? A common man? No one is common if they grew up differently.


This deserves five buildings of the Forbiddan City out of five. Though this is not for a mainstream audience, if you looking to watch a movie like your reading a novel, then The Last Emperor is one that ranks with Amadaus and The Godfather.  


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