Lam Kay CHAN


The Last Emperor (1987), directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, was a classic epic movie which was the big winner of the 60th Academy Awards and the 45th Golden Globe Awards. Over the decades, the cinematography of the film has been thoroughly analyzed by critics. However, the identity of Puyi, the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty as well as the main character in the film, is more intriguing and fascinating to me. According to Stuart Hall (1990), cultural identity is “not an essence, but a positioning”. Meanwhile, the issue of searching for identities has been a focus and widely discussed in the recent decade in Hong Kong. In a sense, this film resonates with the floating identity of Hong Kong, especially the emotion and the destiny of Hong Kong people in such chaotic times throughout history, despite the fact that the whole story and production is not related to Hong Kong at all. Therefore, this article will mainly focus on the journey of searching for identity in Puyi as represented in the film, with reference to Hall’s and Jonathan Rutherford’s discussion on the politics of identity.

Recommended Citation

Chan, L. K. (2021). The Last Emperor: The journey of finding identity. Cultural Studies@Lingnan, 69. Retrieved from https://commons.ln.edu.hk/mcsln/vol69/iss1/9/