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The Last Emperor
The Last Emperor
Actors: John Lone, Joan Chen, Peter O'Toole
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
R     2008     2hr 44min

Bernardo Bertolucci s The Last Emperor won nine Academy Awards, unexpectedly sweeping every category in which it was nominated quite a feat for a challenging, multilayered epic directed by an Italian and starring an intern...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: John Lone, Joan Chen, Peter O'Toole
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Criterion Collection
Format: DVD - Color,Anamorphic
DVD Release Date: 11/18/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/1987
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1987
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 2hr 44min
Screens: Color,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 14
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
See Also:

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Movie Reviews

Blu-ray edition is not a direct carry over from the deluxe 4
R. Svendsen | Flagstaff, Arizona | 01/05/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"When I was informed that the Blu-ray of the deluxe 4 disc Criterion edition would be missing the extended cut of 218 minutes, I sent an e-mail to Criterion to confirm this information. I have included my e-mail and the response I received from Jon Mulvany at Criterion. I hope this helps in your decision if you are planning to upgrade to the Blu-ray.

Dear Jon,
I have long been a fan of your company and the fine treatment it gives to movies. I originally purchased one of my all time favorite movies, The Last Emperor earlier this year when it was given the deluxe 4 disc treatment, I was thrilled with all of the extras that were included. I was most impressed that both versions of the movie were included for me to chose from. When it was announced that it was coming to Blu-ray, I sold my copy and was waiting to upgrade. I was! I have learned that the 165 min. version is the only one that will be included on the Blu-ray and not the 218 min (my preferred version) cut. WHY, WHY WHY? I am sad to say, that if this is indeed really true, I will not be upgrading to the Blu-ray version since this would in fact be considered a step down from the standard DVD edition. Why give us a great product initially, but then short change us on the Blu-ray upgrade, How sad!!!

Michael Ruiz

Jon's reply is as follows:

Hi Michael,

When we made the special edition dvd of The Last Emperor, we pulled out the stops. The film won nine Academy Awards - from best picture and director to production design and editing. On top of that, it was the first international film of this scale produced in China, and that story in and of itself was extraordinary. In short, all aspects of the film merited attention and discussion. In addition to the director's cut of the film -- the original theatrical version -- we gave an entire disc to the longer Italian television version of the film for comparison. We also included an elaborate bound book and slipcase to hold the four disc set. Although the set was expensive, at $59.95, it was as close to definitive as we could make it, and we felt it offered good value.

When it came time to make the Blu-ray edition, we felt strongly that a single-disc edition containing all the added content of the four-disc version would offer our customers the best version of the film, the best value, and the best user experience. Having addressed the myth that the television version is the director's cut with our DVD box set, we didn't feel that including it as an extra Blu-ray disc was worth the added cost to the customer. Similarly, because the Blu-ray market place is still much smaller than the market for DVDs, the cost per copy of printing Blu-ray sized perfect-bound books would have driven the price of our edition up to a level we considered prohibitively expensive for consumers.

We also know that many or our customers already own the current dvd set. For them we are offering an upgrade program that will allow them to have the director's preferred version of the film on Blu-ray, while keeping the rest of the original package. Just send in your disc 1 and we'll send you the blu-ray disc for a $20 (+ $5 shipping and handling) replacement fee. If you are determined to have all the content of the DVD edition as well as the Blu-ray disc content, you could always go that route -- buy the DVD set and trade in disc 1 for a Blu-ray. In the end I think the cost would still be less than we would have had to charge to make an all Blu-ray version of our original edition.

I hope this helps you understand our thinking. Thanks, as always, for your support of Criterion.


Jon Mulvaney
"Director's Cut" versus "Theatrical Cut"
S. Yen | Boston, MA United States | 10/31/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This review is not so much a review of the movie or this release in particular. It would seem that there will be no shortage of glorious reviews of this movie and I would just be adding my voice to the gale winds of appraise. I write this to clear up the common mis-perception that the longer cut of this movie is a director's cut.

The previously released longer cut of The Last Emperor which was released on DVD and subsequently labeled as a "Director's Cut" is in fact a longer, made for television mini-series version that was made to satisfy a particular distribution/production deal. Bertolucci himself has gone on record to say that the actual version of the film that he envisioned is the one that went out to theaters, thereby making the shorter "Theatrical Cut" the actual director's cut.

Being the huge fan of this movie that I am, I can't help but want more of this movie, but I'd be lying if I said that the shorter version isn't great just as it is. The movie does not lose any of its magic without the added content. I've given this review a 4 star rating because of the completist in me. If there are two versions of a movie out there. I would enjoy the option of playing the version that I want. Criterion did so with their DVD release, but failed to do it with their Blu-ray release. Welcome to double-dip country. As of this writing, I still have not determined if I shall fall prey to their marketing ploy since I have been waiting so long for a good transfer of this film."
Defective Criterion Blu-Ray Soundtrack
Gary Vidmar | Colorado Springs | 04/24/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Sadly, Criterion's Blu-Ray edition of THE LAST EMPEROR has a quality control problem severe enough to note here. The DTS surround track has been incorrectly mastered in monaural for the first couple of hours into the picture. Hopefully Criterion will correct the problem on subsequent prints, otherwise their standard dvd version is the one to own for now."
Criterion comes up short on "Emperor"
Dennis W. Wong | 01/31/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I recently purchased this edition of "The Last Emperor" and was disappointed. Disappointed not in the brilliant visual presentation in Blu-ray but in the audio design!! On the jacket it says that it is Stereo surround but when I listen, it's basically monaural sound with all of it emanating from the center, not left or right or rear surrounds, but dead center. Also the aspect ratio is 2:00 and it's stated that it's from a 35mm source well that is a surprise!! Although the picture is an improvement over the grainyness of the tape, DVD and laser disc versions of this film--why couldn't this renowned company acquire a 70mm print since it's ratio is 2:00!? I almost feel like writing Criterion and addressing this problem. It doesn't bug me that this is the theatrical rather than the longer Director's cut that was released to Italian TV since I've already seen this version on a Japanese laser disc--it's the audio design that needs to be addressed!! So 4 stars for the visuals, but only 1 for the audio (the surround doesn't kick in until the last 45 minutes of this film!!)."