The story of Pu Yi, who ascended to the Imperial Throne in China at the age of three and became the country?s last Emperor. Although it is 160 minutes long and shot with breathtaking scope and sumptuousness, Bernardo Bertolucci’s film is a story about claustrophobia. Pu Yi is a prisoner in the palace he rules over. Outside, real power changes hands with each coup d’etat. Pu Yi grows to manhood, is tutored by a Westerner (Peter O’Toole), and marries a gorgeous princess (Joan Chen). However, the adult Pu Yi (John Lone) is destined for a communist re-education camp when the war is over. From start to finish, Pu Yi is a passive antihero who can never come to grips with the idea that the absolute power conferred on him as a child was only a mirage. The mistakes Pu Yi made trying to realise that power–especially collaborating with the Japanese during the war–provide Bertolucci with the chance to explore his familiar theme of collaboration and its moral consequences (as he did in THE CONFORMIST and 1900). In the end, Pu Yi seems to have reached a kind of peace, and the terrible waste of a special man’s life disappears into a drab, grey-clad Beijing.