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The Last Emperor

In: Film and Music

Submitted By hnc3220
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The Last Emperor: Truth and Misleading In 1987, a film came into theaters across the globe about China’s last emperor. The Last Emperor, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, shows the life of Pu-Yi from when he enters the Forbidden City at age three to become emperor of China, to his final days as a reformed man. The film, although it showed how China was during the Qing Dynasty in a fairly honest light, also had its downfalls. Many problems plagues the last years of the Qing Dynasty, such as the Republic Revolutions, opium, warlords, and the confusing relationship with Japan and it’s government during this time. These issues were either not touched on or barely noticeable during the almost three hour long film. The story of Pu Yi, China’s last emperor, starts with him being taken to the Forbidden City at the age of three. The Dowager Empress “arranged once more for a boy emperor.” (Morton, 174) Pu Yi would not stay emperor long, as he would lose that title in 1912 because of the Republican Revolution. Formed by Sun Yat-Sen, it was a revolution against imperial rule. This revolution was also largely a military revolt and the beginnings of a fast changing government. In the film this Revolution seemed to hardly happen. Although the young emperor was being protected from the outside world, it would have made the film more historically clear if this event was explained more in depth. As an important event during that was part of Pu Yi’s loss of power, the Republic Revolution should have been included in the storyline.
Opium was such a commodity in Chinese society once trade was opened with Europe, and would have made the film more interesting if it was seen and discussed more in The Last Emperor. Since the East India Trading Company started trading this lazy drug to create more wealth, opium became part of everyday life. It is possible that the opium trade was a

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