Bernardo Bertolucci's "THE LAST EMPEROR" has finally made its long-awaited blu-ray release, courtesy of CRITERION. Perhaps his best film, it's definitely the director's most widely received, having won 8 oscars, including Best Director and Best film over 20 years ago. The story follows the life of Pu Yi, an unwitting ruler, crowned as Emperor of China at the age of 3. In this sweeping epic, we follow the struggles of the leader, as he grows into manhood, forbidden the ability to make real choices, while the world outside of his reach is changing. Japan eventually invades China and even when Pu Yi abdicates the throne, he's still a pawn. Tragic, stirring and beautiful, "THE LAST EMPEROR" is a rare film deserving of "classic" status.
Unfortunately, while two versions of the film are available, only the theatrical version is offered here. The unrated international version, running almost an hour longer, offers substantially more narrative devoted to the ruler in his youth, and while the theatrical version is great, the extra footage adds even more depth to the film, without dragging it.
CRITERION has provided the correct 2.00:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray. Colors are rich and vibrant, often pushed to the limits, without oversaturation, not an easy thing, considering such strong orange hues. Blacks are deep, offering wonderful detail in darker scenes.
CRITERION has provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix. While there are no surround effects, to dazzle those hoping to show off their audio system, the fidelity is outstanding. Dialogue is always sharp, and in comparison to the dvd, this lossy mix provides fuller dynamic range throughout.
CRITERION is known for providing great extras, and so is the case here! In addition to an insightful commentary with Bertolucci, the producer, screenwriter, and a composer, we also find various videos and two great documentaries, as well as an interview with David Byrne.