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Press Release Criterion Press Release: The Last Emperor (1987) (4k UHD Combo) (Blu-ray) (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

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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 international cast. Yet the scope of the film was, and remains, undeniably powerful—the life of Emperor Puyi, who took the throne in 1908, at age three, before witnessing decades of cultural and political upheaval within and without the walls of the Forbidden City. Recreating Qing-dynasty China with astonishing detail and unparalleled craftsmanship by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and production designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti, The Last Emperor is also an intimate character study of one man reconciling personal responsibility and political legacy.

FILM INFO​

  • China, United Kingdom, Italy, France
  • 1987
  • 163 minutes
  • Color
  • 2.00:1/2.35:1
  • English
  • Spine #422

    BERNARDO BERTOLUCCI

    The Last Emperor​

    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 international cast. Yet the scope of the film was, and remains, undeniably powerful—the life of Emperor Puyi, who took the throne in 1908, at age three, before witnessing decades of cultural and political upheaval within and without the walls of the Forbidden City. Recreating Qing-dynasty China with astonishing detail and unparalleled craftsmanship by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and production designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti, The Last Emperor is also an intimate character study of one man reconciling personal responsibility and political legacy.

    FILM INFO​

    • China, United Kingdom, Italy, France
    • 1987
    • 163 minutes
    • Color
    • 2.00:1/2.35:1
    • English
    • Spine #422
    • DIRECTOR-APPROVED 4K UHD + BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES​

      • 4K digital restoration, presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
      • One 4K UHD disc of the film presented in Dolby Vision HDR and two Blu-rays with the film and special features
      • Audio commentary featuring director Bernardo Bertolucci, producer Jeremy Thomas, screenwriter Mark Peploe, and composer-actor Ryuichi Sakamoto
      • 218-minute television version
      • The Italian Traveler, Bernardo Bertolucci, a film by Fernand Moszkowicz tracing the director’s geographic influences, from Parma to China
      • Footage taken by Bertolucci while on preproduction in China
      • Two documentaries about the making of the film
      • Program featuring cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, editor Gabriella Cristiani, costume designer James Acheson, and art director Gianni Silvestri
      • Archival interview with Bertolucci
      • Interviews with composer David Byrne and cultural historian Ian Buruma
      • Trailer
      • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
      • PLUS: An essay by film critic David Thomson, interviews with production designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti and actor Ying Ruocheng, a reminiscence by Bertolucci, and an essay by Fabien S. Gerard

        Cover by Lucien S. Y. Yang


        August 13, 2024
 

Josh Steinberg

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This is good to see, although I think the Univisium AR is pointless.

I agree but this seems to be the hill they’ve chosen to die on.

I see the theoretical point of opening up the aspect ratio when it’s shot in such a way that you’re adding more picture on the top and bottom of the frame but I see no point to artificially cropping an image years after its creation out of some bizarre theory of where human eyes are in the head or whatever the verbiage was.
 

Angelo Colombus

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Have the Arrow Video 4K disc box set release but will read the reviews before i purchase this one.
 
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SD_Brian

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I suspect the 2.00:1 ratio is strictly for the TV version which has not been remastered.
It's also possible that the included Blu-Ray is identical to the previous release, rather than a re-mastered version, and only the 4K is 2.35.
 

JoshZ

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It's also possible that the included Blu-Ray is identical to the previous release, rather than a re-mastered version, and only the 4K is 2.35.

I think Criterion really needs to clarify what the heck "2.00:1/2.35:1" means. Is the movie now variable aspect ratio scene-to-scene? Have they provided two full and separate aspect ratio versions of the movie in 4K? Or does it just mean that the included Blu-ray will be the older Criterion disc cropped to 2.00:1 while the 4K disc will be 2.35:1 (presumably sourced from the same master Arrow used)? Any of these could be possible until confirmed.
 

Ethan Riley

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Does the listing imply that the television extended version is also in 4k?

I've only EVER seen the extended cut, so it's the film I'm used to. I believe I taped it off tv god knows how many years ago. I would be very interested if this cut is in 4K.
 

SD_Brian

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Have they provided two full and separate aspect ratio versions of the movie in 4K?
It's only a 3-disc set (1 UHD, 2 BD), and it's a long movie, so it's highly unlikely that it will include both aspect ratios in 4K. Most likely scenario is that the UHD is 2.35 and the 2 BDs will replicate the previous 2.00:1 release. It seems like, with most of their 4K upgrades, Criterion's practice has been to not reauthor the original BD. Also, the fact that they are not releasing a new BD-only version would seem to indicate the included BD will be the old release. But yes, it would be nice for Criterion to clarify.
 
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Patrick McCart

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Great to see this upgraded, but surely they're not packaging the ancient 2008 Blu-ray of the theatrical cut and extras with this? Besides the 2.00:1 aspect ratio, they crammed the theatrical cut and five hours of extras onto a single disc. This would be a good opportunity to make the 4K release more definitive by giving the theatrical cut its own 4K and Blu disc, another disc for the television cut in HD, and a fourth disc just for the supplements. I get trying to save costs, but a Best Picture winner directed by Bernardo Bertolucci isn't the time and place to pinch pennies.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Haven't seen that.
The theatrical cut seems long enough as it is, so I can't think of how the even longer version will play.
To me, the extended cut seems shorter. Better film.

Don't know I'd actually consider it (definitely) better, but agreed it doesn't feel that much longer, if at all, despite the fact -- it certainly flowed very well and is at least equally engrossing IIRC the last couple times I saw it... though it's been many years now since I haven't found myself wanting to watch the butchered 2:1 crop even though I own the BD.

I definitely want to own both versions in at least excellent BD quality (if not 4K), if possible.

IF this new release just recycles the old BD and doesn't include a new, high quality, OAR remaster of the extended cut, I'll probably finally bite the bullet and just get the single disc Arrow UK release -- I missed out on the edition w/ both cuts and was hoping for reissue, but alas...

_Man_
 

Malcolm R

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Doesn't seem like much new here. The release just says a "4K digital restoration" and doesn't mention any kind of new transfer, so I'm guessing they just ran the old master through a computer, sprinkled a little DV/HDR, and called it a day.
 

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