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'The loneliest boy on Earth'



Emperor TODAY'S RETRO-REVIEW: The 1987 classic "The Last Emperor," starring John Lone, Joan Chen and Peter O'Toole. Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, the movie won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

THE PLOT: The film follows the life on Pu Yi (Lone), who was -- you guessed it -- the last emperor of China. Though the movie begins with his capture and life as a war criminal after WW2, the film focuses on his rule over China before it was overthrown by Communists and his collaboration with the Japanese during the war.

MAYBE YOU REMEMBER: Several people who knew personally knew Pu Yi -- his older brother, the prison governor, a former manservant -- were brought in to serve as advisers on set.

SURELY YOU CAN'T FORGET: This was the first feature film that was able to gain Chinese government approval to film in the 250-acre Forbidden City. In addition, studios and unlimited numbers of extras were provided by China -- in exchange for exclusive domestic distribution rights. And at the Academy Awards, the movie won for for all nine categories for which it was nominated.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID: The film "never makes the mistake of having only one thing to say about the life of a man who embodied all of the contradictions and paradoxes of 20th century China." -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

WHY WE STILL LOVE IT: What better movie to celebrate on the opening day of the Beijing Olympics? Unlike so many movies of its time, "The Last Emperor" focuses not on action, but on emotion -- and even that it accomplishes with the most subtle of touches. As Ebert says in his review, the point to take away is this -- "that a single human life could have infinite value."


5. "If you cannot say what you mean, your majesty, you will never mean what you say and a gentleman should always mean what he says."

4. "I know that you know that I know that you know that that is a dialouge between Confucius and Chuang Tzu."

3. "Many heads have been chopped off. It does stop them thinking."

2. "I think the Emperor is the loneliest boy on Earth."

1. "All your life you thought you were better than everyone else. Now you think you're the worst of all!"

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:37pm]


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