A sweeping biopic based on the life of the last Chinese Emperor, Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi. Told mainly in flashback after Pu Yi (John Lone) becomes a prisoner of the newly established People's Republic of China, the movie tells the story of his troubled reign starting as a two year old child. Appointed Emperor in 1908 by the Empress Dowager Cixi (Lisa Lu) when he was still a toddler, Pu Yi grows up isolated from his family . As the outside world goes through political upheavals Pu Yi remains a virtual prisoner within the Forbidden City. He is kept ignorant and frequently used as a pawn by several conflicting factions jockeying for power.
Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, the movie has the rare distinction of having obtained permission from the Chinese government to film on location within the Forbidden City, a first for a Western production. It went on to win nine Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.