Friday, November 14, 2008

"The Emperor is dead!"

Driving to the train station this morning, I heard this story on NPR about the mysterious death of China's second-to-last emperor, Qing Guangxu.

"Who Murdered China's Emperor 100 Years Ago?" - November 14, 2008

Modern science has now concluded that he was poisoned by the Empress Dowager Cixi, who followed him in death a mere 22 hours later, leaving five-year-old Pu Yi (a distant ancestor of mine) to ascend the throne as China's last emperor. This part of the story is told at the beginning of the movie The Last Emperor, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, which swept the nine Oscars that it was nominated for in 1988.

Some of you know that my family history dates back more than 800 years in China, and includes a distant link to Pu Yi - my father's people were from Manchuria, what they used to call the northern part of China, and I am a quarter Manchurian by blood. Pu Yi was the first emperor from Manchuria - you can find a synopsis of his true story and tons of references at this site:

I've been trying to find time to watch this movie since I bought the four-disc Criterion version several months ago (it's almost four hours long in an expanded director's cut) and this new revelation has made me want to see it very soon.