The Last Emperor (1987) © Yanco Films
The Last Emperor (1987) © Yanco Films

ACMI presents

The Last Emperor

Bernardo Bertolucci | USA, Mexico, France | 1987 | M






ACMI Member



Thu 11 Apr - Sat 27 Apr 2024

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An Academy Award-winning score by Ryuichi Sakamoto complements his performance on screen in Bernardo Bertolucci's historical drama.

Beginning in 1950 when he is captured and imprisoned as a pro-Japanese war criminal by the Red Army, Pu Yi (John Lone) recalls his life story as a privileged and sheltered child, through to adulthood. His reign within the walls of the Forbidden City kept him insulated from the political upheaval that was happening around him. With revolution brewing outside, Pu Yi’s cloistered world is about to be irrevocably altered.

Curator's Notes

Filmed inside the Forbidden City with unprecedented access granted by Chinese officials, Bernardo Bertolucci's sweeping historical epic is one of the great prestige dramas of the 1980s.

Garnering a staggering nine Academy Awards, the film was truly the tall poppy of 1988, due in part to Ryuichi Sakamoto's contribution as both a supporting actor and one of the film score's composers, alongside David Byrne and Su Cong. The trio received the Academy Award for Best Original Score.

– Reece Goodwin, Curator (Film & TV)

Format: DCP
Language: English, Mandarin & Japanese with English subtitles
Source: Umbrella Entertainment
Courtesy: Umbrella Entertainment
Runtime: 163 mins

Event duration

163 mins



Contains moderate violence and themes, Infrequent moderate coarse language


Cinema 1, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

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Focus on Ryuichi Sakamoto (Thu 4 Apr – Sun 21 Apr 2024)

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Costumes from The Last Emperor

Textiles conservator Marion Parker helped conserve costumes from The Last Emperor for ACMI's centrepiece exhibition, The Story of the Moving Image.

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Marion Parker - The Last Emperor costume conservation (detail)

Step in to The Last Emperor's wardrobe

A woman in a floral dress and long dark hair sitting on a bench and looking at an installation in The Story of the Moving Image (image credit: Phoebe Powell)

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