The Last Emperor
Bernardo Bertolucci / IT, 1987 / 163 min.
Ryuichi Sakamoto won an Oscar together with Talking Heads frontman David Byrne for the music he composed for the epic film adaptation of the life of Pu Yi, the last Chinese emperor. Bertolucci was the first western filmmaker to be allowed to film inside the 9999-room Forbidden City complex in Beijing.
The music Sakamoto composed for Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor may not be his most innovative score, but it certainly brought him the most awards. Bertolucci was the first western filmmaker to be allowed into Beijing’s Forbidden City for his film about the last Chinese emperor. Sensibly, he engaged master cameraman Vittorio Storaro (Il Conformista, Apocalypse Now), which resulted in stunningly beautiful shots.
The music, too, had its part to play in the shower of awards lavished on the film. Sakamoto had to share his Oscar with Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne, who also composed a large part of the music, and musician Cong Su, who made one contribution to the soundtrack.
Sakamoto & Byrne brilliantly integrated traditional Chinese instruments into their compositions. Apart from being orchestral and traditional, their contributions undeniably carry their stamp and that of their respective bands.
The Last Emperor
ENG, CMN, JPN
Holland Festival 2021
This year, Eye puts the spotlight on Ryuichi Sakamoto, one of the associate artists of the Holland Festival 2021. Sakamoto's latest work Time will premiere during the festival, an unconventional wordless opera he made together with visual artist Shiro Takatani. Eye will organise seven accompanying programmes in June focusing on Sakamoto's illustrious career.