From Beijing with love: The global dimension of Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2047-7368
  • E-ISSN: 2047-7376



Famous for being the first foreign feature film that obtained permission to shoot in the Forbidden City, The Last Emperor (1987) is also one of the most ambitious and expensive independent productions of its time, awarded four Golden Globes and nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture. In addition, The Last Emperor can be considered as one of the first attempts of cinematic collaboration between West and East, in a period of cultural and economic transformations witnessed by China. This article aims to offer an overview of the production history of The Last Emperor, focusing on the co-production collaborations and the outcomes of a western auteur’s gaze on Chinese history. Questions of Orientalism, travel narrative and critical reception are taken into account in order to engage with the transnational implications of Bertolucci’s film and the western fascination with China.


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