->''"The Emperor has been a prisoner in his own palace since the day that he was crowned, and has remained a prisoner since he abdicated. But now he's growing up, he may wonder why he's the only person in China who may not walk out of his own front door. I think the Emperor is the loneliest boy on Earth."''
-->-- '''Reginald Johnston'''

A 1987 film directed and co-written by Creator/BernardoBertolucci, ''The Last Emperor'' was the {{biopic}} of Pu-Yi, [[TitleDrop The Last Emperor]] of China. Its story, based on his autobiography, tells how Pu-Yi ascended to the throne at the age of three. In his brief reign, he was confined to the Forbidden City, not knowing of the world of his people. When he is forced to abdicate at nine, the rest of Pu-Yi's life is one of desolation and impoverishment. After serving as the ruler of a [[UsefulNotes/ImperialJapan Japanese puppet government of China]] during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, he becomes a political prisoner of the Soviets and then of the Communist Chinese. When finally released in the 1960's, Pu-Yi dies in obscurity...

This proved very successful at the Oscars, winning all nine of its nominations, including Best Picture, tying the record set by ''Film/{{Gigi}}'' nearly thirty years earlier.
!!This work features examples of:

* ArmorPiercingQuestion: Pu Yi lashes out noting that everyone wanted to use him all his life and even the Communists are no different, trying to make him a useful citizen. To which the governor replies:
--> "Is that so bad? To be useful?"
* ArtisticLicenseBiology: [[spoiler:There is no way in hell a cricket could live that long, especially in a closed container without food or water.]]
* AsYouKnow: The governor helpfully tells Pu-Yi, and the audience, that the Japanese put a puppet state in Manchuria called Manchukuo and even tells the date, even though Pu Yi knew all that because he was there at the time.
%%* BreakTheCutie
* BreakTheHaughty: Numerous examples, but the whole movie is basically about Pu-Yi's journey from emperor to gardener. Pu-Yi's prison experience results in CharacterDevelopment.
* AChildShallLeadThem: Not for long.
* ChummyCommies: The Detention centre overseer (played by Ying Ruocheng) who oversees Pu-Yi's re-education genuinely seeks to help him take responsibility and become a good citizen. Pu Yi slowly matures and undergoes CharacterDevelopment under his care. Bertolucci noted that this made the Chinese different from [[UsefulNotes/TheFrenchRevolution the French]] and [[UsefulNotes/RedOctober Russian revolutionaries]], both of whom [[TheKingslayer killed their kings]].
* ConvenientMiscarriage: [[spoiler:The Japanese officials' explanation for the death of Wan Rong's love child. [[MoralEventHorizon They poison the baby girl to death as soon as she's born.]]]]
* DepravedBisexual: Eastern Jewel sleeps with everyone, including Empress Wan Rong, in order to gain power. She's finally DrivenToSuicide when the Japanese surrender.
* DirtyCommunists: The film shows the early stirrings of Mao's Cultural Revolution and Pu Yi is shocked to see that his kindly and genuinely committed overseer becomes a target for re-education by the young kids of this movement. Bertolucci who is a Marxist and had flirted with Maoism as a youth intended this as a TakeThatMe.
* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler:Pu-Yi's mother. And much later, the Japanese officer that pushed Pu-Yi around.]]
%%* EunuchsAreEvil
* GildedCage: The Forbidden City.
* HotConsort: Two of them, Empress Wang Rong and First Concubine Wen Xiu. [[spoiler:It doesn't go well, in the end.]]
* HowWeGotHere: The film starts as Pu-Yi returns to China as a prisoner and it works its way backwards.
* ImportantHaircut: Pu-Yi gets rid of his Manchu Queue.
* KickedUpstairs: What the movie doesn't say is that, after getting deposed, Pu-Yi is put on the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a multi-party "advisory body" to the Chinese Government.
* TheLastTitle: The title.
* LonelyRichKid: Pu-Yi.
* NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished: For trying to sincerely mentor Pu-Yi into rehabilitation, the prison governor is taken captive by the Red Guard in the 1960s to subject him for re-education and public humiliation.
%%* OscarBait
* PerfectlyArrangedMarriage: Pu-Yi wanted a modern wife who could follow the new dances and was educated outside China. He found her in Wang Rong. [[spoiler:But it didn't last.]]
* {{Polyamory}}: Pu-Yi marries Wan Rong and has Wen Xiu as his First Concubine, [[spoiler:and things don't go very well]].
* PrettyInMink: A few furs, like those worn by the consorts.
* PuppetKing: Pu-Yi as the emperor of Manchukuo.
* PuppetState: Manchukuo.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Unlike his radical and vengeful comrades, the overseer of the prison where Pu-Yi was incarcerated was more kind and helpful in trying to reform Pu-Yi.
* ReCut: A version prepared for television reinstated a hour's worth of footage cut for the theatrical version. Unlike some extended versions of films, Bertolucci considers the shorter version as his director's cut.
* RoyalWe: Pu-Yi when emperor of Manchukuo.
* SceneryPorn: It was filmed ''in the Forbidden City'' itself.
* StartsWithASuicide: Attempted by Pu-Yi in the beginning to kick off the story.
* TakeOverTheWorld: The Japanese make clear their goal of conquering Korea, China, Indochina and India.
* TranslationConvention: The majority of on-screen dialogue from Chinese characters is in English, while text and background dialogue not immediately pertaining to the plot are in Mandarin.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: TropeNamer. The title character violently throws his beloved pet mouse offscreen. There's no sound of the mouse hitting anything, but it's never seen again in the theatrical cut, leaving its fate ambiguous. The Extended Cut released on DVD, though, does answer the question. The answer: About what you'd expect when a mouse is thrown against a wall... (The mouse used for the shot was not real and no mice were injured in making the film.)
* WhiteMansBurden: Peter O'Toole as wise tutor Reginald Johnston.
* WouldHurtAChild: Bad times for [[spoiler:Wan Rong and her love child.]]