Lisa Schwarzbaum
December 04, 1998 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Last Emperor

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
runtime
160 minutes
performer
Joan Chen, John Lone, Peter O'Toole
director
Bernardo Bertolucci
distributor
Columbia Pictures
author
Bernardo Bertolucci
genre
Drama, Historical

We gave it an B+

Is there a need to add nearly an hour to the already 160 minutes long The Last Emperor when Bernardo Bertolucci loaded up on Academy Awards a decade ago? No, there is not. Does this 219-minute director’s cut look so different, to a casual re-visitor, from the 1987 epic that made a star of John Lone, playing the title role? Not really. But neither is the film’s Zen-slow pace a burden. Rather, the expanse of time is saturated with an expanse of visual beauty that feels absolutely right for the story, that of a human caged bird who, tragically, loses all sense of direction once he’s kicked from his magnificently gilded cage. The relationship between the royal student and his Western tutor (Peter O’Toole, a vision of compassion and British rectitude) is given all the time required to catalog the mysteries of East-meets-West. And the added hour affords Bertolucci even more time to marvel, in his most voluptuous style, at every cloud, grasshopper, and broom-pushing peasant when not telling the astonishing story of Pu Yi, Lord of Ten Thousand Years, one-man symbol of the history of modern China. B+

You May Like

Comments

EDIT POST