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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Historical > China > The Last Emperor (Umbrella Entertainment DVD/Region Four/4/PAL Format)

The Last Emperor (Umbrella Entertainment DVD/Region Four/4/PAL Format)


Picture: C†††† Sound: C†††† Extras: A-†††† Film: A-



PLEASE NOTE: This DVD can only be operated on machines capable of playing back DVDs that can handle Region Four/4/PAL format software, and can be ordered from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment at the website address provided at the end of the review.



Despite winning 9-Academy Awards in 1987 very few people are familiar with Bernardo Bertolucciís biographical film The Last Emperor, which is as shocking as it is disappointing.Although, the available of this film as been questionable on various formats over the years, but in the U.S. the film has finally been released in a special edition by Criterion, and in Australia this Umbrella Entertainment region 4 PAL format 2-disc set is available.It would seem that Umbrella is releasing many of the catalog titles as if they were Criterion issues, but hopefully that is not the case here.


The story involves the last emperor of China named Emperor Pu Yi/Henry and chronicles his life as tradition meets modern day changes and itís often sad as we see customs and traditions get thrown to the wind by certain Ďprogressí.The film runs a lengthy 160-minutes in itís theatrical version, which is on disc one in this DVD set, however, the even longer and more complete version is available on disc two and runs a distance of 219-minutes and feels like a more resolved version and itís obvious that this was what Bertolucci wanted as his final vision and version of the film.


It should be noted that this film was shot in 35mm Technovision and then blown-up in some theaters with prints on 70mm with a 2.20 X 1 aspect ratio, this DVD set is more approximately displayed at 2.35 X 1 with the PAL format transfer having a sharp appearance, but disappointingly soft with colors that seem smudgy and dull.I was really surprised by how bad the picture quality was considering how good most of the Umbrella Entertainment transfers are, although I have not seen the Criterion release here in the U.S. for comparison, but I would be interested to see if this film has more to offer on DVD than what is here.Iíve seen this film numerous times on regular TV and this is an upgrade over that, but still lacks depth, detail, and color correction.Equally weak is the Dolby 2.0 mix, which is probably the same as the Criterion set though.Iíd be curious to compare these two releases, but I think that the 4-disc Criterion set is more accurate in color reproduction overall and has more supplements.


This release is no slouch though with the extras as it not only includes both cuts of the film, but has audio commentary (I suspect the same as the Criterion), plus a 63-minute making-of segment and Postcards from China, which has commentary with Bertolucci to accompany this segment.The theatrical trailer is also available here.If youíve discovered this film, also check out Martin Scorseseís underrated, under-seen, and underappreciated film Kundun (1997).


As noted above, you can order this import exclusively from Umbrella at:





-†† Nate Goss


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