DON'T EVEN CONSIDER BUYING THIS MOVIE ON DVD
Nix Pix | Windsor, Ontario, Canada | 03/10/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
""The Last Emperor" is the Academy Award winning movie about China's last imperial ruler, Pu Yi (John Lone). Taken from his mother at the age of three and raised to believe in his own divinity as absolute monarch, Pu Yi?s marriage to Wan Jung (Joan Chen) is marred by her opium addiction and the tragic death of their only child and heir to the throne. Peter O?Toole appears as Reginald Johnston, English tutor to his majesty in the ways of diplomacy and the outside world. The film presents China?s Forbidden City as allegory for the pampered but caged existence of wealth and the destructive nature of absolute power. Eventually forced to flee his gated paradise, Pu Yi succumbs to the decadence of becoming a playboy, a stooge of the Japanese, and a victim of China's cultural reforms and re-education programs. The film is a poignant, heart-breaking, tragic and sweeping saga that won, among its other award, the Oscar for best cinematography. But you'd ever guess it by looking at this DVD transfer. The 2:35:1 image has not been anamorphically enhanced and exhibits just about every digital anomaly that one can find on a poorly mastered DVD. There's edge enhancement, aliasing, fine detail shimmering, color smearing, tiling, color distortion, loss of fine details, extremely low contrast levels, disturbing halos and fading of the film?s negative. There are chips, scratches, tears and camera negative jitter. The audio is a rather dismal 2.0 mix. After viewing this travesty it is my sincere hope that whoever was responsible for mastering this DVD will never get the opportunity to be near such equipment again. There are no extras and no reason why anyone should invest in this DVD.
BOTTOM LINE: JUST DO NOT BUY THIS MOVIE! There's nothing to recommend the print used or the mastering employed to bring it to the small screen. If there was room to rate this disc as 'zero' stars I would have done just that. Unfortunately, 'one' is the lowest I could go."
Breathtaking movie that deserves better treatment on DVD
Cainz | Lops Angeles, California USA | 03/28/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'll make this review short and sweet. First off, the movie itself is derserving of all its Oscar wins. The acting is superb, the cinematography is breathtaking, and the story is significant if not moving. If you are a movie lover you will certainly appreciate the beauty and power of this film. So why only 3 stars? I simply can't give the DVD more than 3 stars, becuase quite frankly, this movie deserves a better film transfer and better audio on DVD. The picture is sub-par when you compare it to almost all the new DVD releases today, and the sound is a little better, but not by much. Perhaps the studio should revisit this title and clean it up with a loaded new special edition release with a squeaky clean anamorphic picture transfer with DD 5.1 and DTS sound to boast. This DVD's director's cut is also much longer than the original, which in my opinion, doesn't hurt the film at all, but it doesn't improve the film drastically either. So base your buying decision on the following fact: this is a masterpiece movie on a sub-par DVD transfer. To me, the movie was a must have DVD, which was worth the purchase price alone. Afterall, it is still better than VHS."
Accomplishes the impossible
Aron Hsiao | New York, New York | 03/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ask any director in a world not yet blessed with The Last Emperor whether it might be possible to create a film that documents, with reasonable depth and historical accuracy, the modernization of China--from imperial days through the Cultural Revolution--and that does so while managing also to capture the immeasurable gravity, ethos, and pathos of the twentieth century and all its billions, and you'd be told in so many words that such a task was absolutely, without a doubt, impossible, no matter the allotted length.
But Bertolucci does it here in a single DVD's length, without offending the historian's peculiar sensibilities, abusing the casual filmgoer's expectations, or descending into vulgar and sledgehammer-like metaphor and simile for the sake of efficiency. This film draws one's attention to the matter at hand, not to itself, its director, or any present flaws (to my eye, there are few or none).
Indeed, The Last Emperor may be one of the small handful of Perfect Films yet created in the history of film, able and willing to showcase all that is good and all that is necessary about the arts and their ability to drive our own will to identification.
I won't bother with plot or synopses here. Suffice it to say that this film is the twentieth century encapsulated, in every best and worst way that one might imagine, somehow made at once informative and accessible. It is the sort of film from which no-one can turn, both pedagogical and affecting, the sort of film that makes grown men cry and cynics pray, even if they're not sure to whom their prayer is addressed.
As a final aside: though there are many poor reviews of the DVD media here, the situation is somewhat more mixed than many of them let on. The DVD is indeed of a poorer resolution than most anamorphic widescreen DVDs. However, viewers who don't happen to own 16:9 HDTV sets won't be able to see the difference, since the resolution of the film on this DVD still exceeds what a "standard" television set can display."
Dennis Forcier | Atlanta | 11/28/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This is a WONDERFUL movie. One of my favorites. But this is a TERRIBLE DVD. There are no special features, although there is a text box on the back of the box supposedly enumerating the "Special Features" (including the "4:3 Widescreen" format).The "widescreen" format is simply a scam! The original (2.35?) aspect ratio of the film has been reduced to 4:3 pan and scan, then "enlarged" for 16:9 by cutting off the top and bottom! The resolution is AWFUL. Worse than over-the-air analog broadcasts.I was so horrified at the quality of the picture I can't speak to the value of the additional footage, or even to the sound quality. I was simply unable to watch such awful treatment of a great cinematographer's work."