The Last Emperor (1987) Review || Discover The History of China

Should I Watch It? The Last Emperor Review with LTL

虽然皇上已经退位了 Suīrán huángshàng yǐjīng tuìwèile
The Emperor may have abdicated
但对许多人来说他仍是天威未散Dàn duì xǔduō rén lái shuō tā réng shì tiān wēi wèisàn
but he’s still a symbol of great importance to many people

I have to admit that my history knowledge is quite bad and I learn almost everything about Chinese history from TV shows or films.

If there is one film that can help you learn some Chinese history, The Last Emperor is a solid choice.

The film is originally in English, but is also available to watch in Mandarin if you want to practice your Chinese, as well as learning some Chinese history.

The Last Emperor Review | The Forbidden City

The Last Emperor Review | The First Concubine who dared to divorce the emperor

The Last Emperor Review | Pu Yi

The Last Emperor Review | Words to know

The Last Emperor Review | Oscar Awards

The Last Emperor Review | Bernardo Bertolucci

The Last Emperor Review | Where to watch

The Last Emperor Review | FAQ’s

The Forbidden City

The Last Emperor was the first, and may end up being the only film that was allowed to be shot inside The Forbidden City.

In Chinese the Forbidden City is commonly called 故宫 (gùgōng), 故 means former or old and 宫 means imperial palace, so together it is the Former Imperial Palace.

However, it is also called 紫禁城 (zǐjìnchéng), 紫 means purple, 禁 means forbidden and 城 is city.

Together this makes ‘The Purple Forbidden City’. in ancient China ‘purple’ refers to the North Star which was seen as the heavenly abode of the Celestial Emperor.

In modern day China The Forbidden City is now both a former royal palace and a museum.

Have you ever went to The Forbidden City? How do you like it? Leave a comment below.

It embodies nearly 600 years of court changes and transitions of life, and has accumulated thousands of years of cultural narration. With its historical importance, it has become a milestone in Chinese national culture, art, society and history.

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The First Concubine who Dared to Divorce the Emperor

Wenxiu (文秀 wénxiù) is the first and only concubine in all of Chinese history that dared to divorce the emperor, and she succeeded.

In this movie, Wenxiu is played by famous Chinese actress Vivia Wu (邬君梅 wūjūnméi).

Wenxiu and the Emperor’s relationship works well while they are still living in the Forbidden City.

However, once they leave Wenxiu becomes jealous of the Empress and wants her own freedom.

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The Last Emperor || Puyi

The Last Emperor

Puyi (full Chinese name 爱新觉罗·溥仪 Ài xīn jué luō pǔyí), was the last emperor of the Qing dynasty, and of all of China.

He became Emperor when he was 3 years old in 1908.

He then died as an ordinary person in 1967, during the second year of the Cultural Revolution.

He wrote an autobiography called…

From Emperor to Citizen (我的前半生Wǒ de qián bànshēng).

This movie is based on his autobiography and shows his whole life throughout 20th century Chinese history.

The Last Emperor Review || Words to Know

  • 老佛爷 Lǎo fóyé – The old buddha, refers to the emperor’s mother
  • 太监 Tàijiàn – Eunuch
  • 天子 Tiānzǐ – The Emperor
  • 大清 Dà qīng – Qing dynasty
  • 驾崩 Jià bēng – (of an emperor) to die
  • 蝈蝈 Guō guō or 蟋蟀 Xīshuài – cricket
  • 退位 Tuìwèi – to abdicate
  • 满洲国 Mǎnzhōu guó – Manchuria
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The Last Emperor Review || Oscar Awards

The Last Emperor was a hugely successful film and it won 9 Oscars at the 60th Academy Awards in 1988.

The awards it won were:

  • Best Director
  • Best Picture
  • Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Sound
  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Costume Design
  • Best Original Score
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The Last Emperor Review || Bernardo Bertolucci

Bernardo Bertolucci is the director of The last Emperor, he is very interested in Chinese culture and really loves it.

He read and studied Puyi’s autobiography From Emperor to Citizen extensively in order to make the film.

The Last Emperor Review || Where to Watch

As The Last Emperor was made in both English and Mandarin, there are two versions of it available to watch.

Both versions are available to watch on many Chinese streaming platforms such as Youku for free with English subtitles.

When you watch the Chinese version, one thing you will notice is that the speaking doesn’t always match up with the actors’ mouths.

This is because the film was dubbed in Mandarin over the original English recording.

Perhaps the English version will be better to watch if you just want to concentrate on learning about Chinese history.

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The Last Emperor || FAQs

Is The Last Emperor a true story?

Yes, most of the story in the movie is true, however there are some adjustments.

How do you say The Last Emperor in Chinese?

In Chinese The Last Emperor is 末代皇帝 Mòdài huángdì.

When was The Last Emperor released?

The Last Emperor was released in 1987.

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  1. Fejiro

    Chinese movies intrigues me beyond what words can ever describe. I enjoy the plot of the film, I get to learn about their language and culture, and I also get to enjoy incredible hours of stunts and actions.

    1. Max Hobbs

      太好了! It's a great movie, we are glad you also enjoyed it Fejiro!


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