The Last Emperor
Biopics can be messy, and even a director as talented as Bernardo Bertolucci can stumble in relaying the details of even an extraordinary life without becoming bogged down in the minutia. That is ultimately my problem with the film. It was long, and it felt long. It is absolutely beautiful to behold. The colors explode on the screen. The costumes and scenery are overwhelmingly spectacular. The problem was, I never felt like any message was trying to be conveyed, or at least not one I could identify with.
The the story itself is interesting at least in premise. I'm very interesting in 'the last' of something. An end of an era, of a way of life. And that is very well represented in the film, but ultimately I didn't become vested in the emperor in the least. The rest of the characters drifted in and out of the film with little emotional impact on the emperor or for me. For someone who held such a high position, he was a bit of a pushover and not all that interesting. There was very little to grab a hold of here. The cultural battle that could have been the focal point of the movie, was present, but decidedly underdeveloped. The biggest flaw however was the dead dialog and forced exposition. Especially in the first third of the film, the acting and dialog was downright uncomfortable. It felt like they had a lot to say, but were rushed and just decided to try to cram as much background into as few lines of dialog as possible. It came off unnatural and forced and completely clashed with the elegance and authenticity of the visuals. In the end, that's what I took away from this. It has stunning visuals. The story is lacking, but vibrancy is not.Rating: