My Blu-ray pick of the week has got to be The Last Emperor. The film won 9 Academy Awards in 1987, including Best Picture and Best Director (Bernardo Bertolucci). The film tells the story of the life of Chinese Emperor Pu Yi, who took the throne at age three in 1908 and witnessed decades of political upheaval.
The Last Emperor was originally released in theaters by Columbia, but after a few change of hands has been picked up by The Criterion Collection. Criterion released a 4-disc DVD set back in February of 2008, and has now released the hi-def version.
The Blu-ray Disc version of the film is formatted in MPEG-4 AVC at 1080p with a super wide aspect ratio of 2.00:1. Audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround. Total length of the film is 165 minutes.
It should be noted that the packaging for The Last Emperor is not the traditional Blu-ray blue plastic case, but rather a blue label on the bottom right. Look carefully for this disc on the shelf as it is easy to miss. A Blu-ray spec can also be found on the back of the package. You can also order the The Last Emperor from Amazon.com
Here are the extras included on this disc:
• Audio commentary by director Bernardo Bertolucci, producer Jeremy Thomas, screenwriter Mark Peploe, and composer-actor Ryuichi Sakamoto
• The Italian Traveler: Bernardo Bertolucci, a 53-minute film by Fernand Mozskowicz, tracing the director’s geographic influences, from Parma to China
• The Chinese Adventure of Bernardo Bertolucci, a 52-minute documentary that revisits the film’s creation
• A 47-minute documentary featuring Storaro, editor Gabriella Cristiana, costume designer James Acheson, and art director Gianni Silvestri
• A 66-minute documentary exploring Bertolucci’s creative process and the making of The Last Emperor
• A 30-minute interview with Bertolucci from 1989
• Video images taken by Bertolucci in China
• A new interview with composer David Byrne
• A new interview with Ian Buruma examining the historical period of the film
• Theatrical trailer
• Booklet featuring an essay by critic David Thomson