The Last Emperor (1987) - Movie Review for History Teachers | Student Handouts
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The Last Emperor (1987)
World History > Chinese Revolution > Chinese Revolution Books and Films
Release date: 1987

Length: 163 minutes (2 hours, 43 minutes)

The Last Emperor (1987) - Movie review and guide for high school World History teachers. Age Appropriateness Rating: The Last Emperor is rated PG-13 in the United States. This film features some violence and sexual innuendo, but is safe for classroom viewing by students in senior high school (grades 9-12). A women's breasts are seen as she breast feeds a child.

Creators and Stars: John Lone, Joan Chen, Peter O'Toole, Vivian Wu, Bernardo Bertolucci

Historical Accuracy: The Last Emperor focuses on Puyi, the last Qing emperor of China who went on to serve as Japan's puppet emperor of Manchuria (Manchukuo). Not all of the details are correct, particularly regarding Puyi's personal life, but the aesthetics and general historical background of the film are quite good.

Review: The Last Emperor won 9 Academy Awards. It features Joan Chen and Peter O'Toole. This film is enlightening as a bridge between European imperialism in China, the Nationalist Revolution in China, the Japanese invasion and takeover, the Communist Revolution, and the Cultural Revolution. Students see the incredible changes which took place over the course of a single lifetime. Apart from the film's overall quality, the "hook" for kids is seeing a teenager--someone their own age--faced with the challenges Puyi faced. Character development through discussion of how Puyi ultimately chose himself over his country, and paid the price for that decision.
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