AFI Fest 2013: THE LAST EMPEROR 3D Review

9

Film Pulse Score

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Release Date: TBD
Director:
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Film Pulse Score: 9/10

Why 3D?   Predator, another film released in 1987, would be a more understandable candidate for a 3D conversion.  Thanks to the advances of 3D cinema, who could ever forget the shoddy conversion given the Clash of the Titans remake, 3D conversions have gotten better.  James Cameron’s Titanic and Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park received excellent 3D conversions that showed what the true potential of the format can be.   It’s more about providing depth as opposed to in-your-face gimmicks.  Rush the conversion and you’ll have the aforementioned remake but take your time and you can have something special.   Director Bernardo Betolucci and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro wanted to give their Academy Award winning classic a worthwhile 3D conversion

The Last Emperor chronicles the life of Pu-Yi, China’s last sovereign after millennia of dynastic rulers.  Chosen at the age of three to be “The Son of Heaven,”  Pu-Yi faces the Chinese civil war, occupations by Japan and the Soviet Union and his rehabilitation by Chinese communists.  As a child he ruled all but as an adult he discovers that his power does not go beyond the palace walls and he is in fact a prisoner in his own domain.

This excellent film won nine Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography.   Bertolucci’s intention for the 3D conversion was to make it current for a new generation.  The film received a stellar 4K restoration.  One of the drawbacks for 3D films is that the image will always be darker than a normally projected film.   As a result, the colors aren’t as vibrant as they would be if it were presented in 2D.   However, despite this the film has never looked or sounded so good.  The 3D provides more depth to the image and is never intrusive.   The added depth really comes to play in the Forbidden City.  The film has the distinction of being the first feature ever shot within its walls.

Whether it is in 2D or 3D Bertolucci’s film demands to be seen on the big screen.   Seeing it in the theatre is a whole new experience especially for those who have only seen it in the comfort of their own home.   The 3D adds depth to Storaro’s award winning cinematography and never feels unnecessary or like a money grab.   Like the recent Wizard of Oz 3D conversion Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor is worth checking out.