The Last Emperor (1987)
“The Last Emperor” tells the deeply emotional story of the end of the Manchu Dynasty in China. Pu Yi, Lord of Ten Thousand Years, is removed from the Forbidden City and placed in a puppet state during the period when China became a Republic. For the first time, Pu Yi struggles to live in a world outside his palace walls.
The story opens with an older Pu Yi (played by John Lone) as a prisoner of war in 1950. There he is interrogated and forced to relive his tragic past. In 1908, three-year old Manchurian-born Pu Yi was taken from his mother and brought before the Dowager Empress Ci Xi in the Forbidden City. On her deathbed, the Empress named her young nephew her successor, and the new Emperor of China. As time went on, Pu Yi accepted his title, and lived lavishly in his private city surrounded only by eunuchs and wives of the Emperor before him. When his brother came to visit however, he brought news from the outside world, and spoke of another Chinese leader who rode in a car. This news troubled Pu Yi, who thought his rule was absolute.
Life slowly changed in the next several years in the Forbidden City. In 1919, Pu Yi received an English tutor, Reginald Johnston (played by Peter O’Toole). Under Johnston’s guidance, Pu Yi learned more about Western culture. Johnston was instrumental in getting Pu Yi some much-needed spectacles, and presented the growing Emperor with a bicycle. Pu Yi even chose a Western name for himself, Henry. At the age of sixteen, Henry Pu Yi chose a wife, and also a consort. Although he was married, Pu Yi was still unable to leave the safety of his palace walls. The outside world was changing rapidly, and Pu Yi could not rule China from within the City.
In 1924, Pu Yi finally got his chance to leave the Forbidden City. Unfortunately, the City had fallen to a warlord, and Pu Yi and his family were forced out. He was a prisoner, now afraid to leave his familiar world, but still very...