Witness the rise and fall of a god, the last Emperor of China, in this captivating drama.
In the heart of Beijing, lies the Forbidden City, a compound that served as the imperial palace for nearly five hundred years. At its centre, the colossal Hall of Supreme Harmony, a vast colour-laden structure that once housed the Emperor of China, the Son of Heaven, and the ruler of the Middle Kingdom. One ruler was particularly significant, Pu Yi, the last emperor of China, who was born inside the palace walls in 1906. His reign and life were a tumultuous journey of power, betrayal, and ultimate defeat. In this novel, we follow Pu Yi’s dramatic life story, from his birth, his brief reign, his fall from grace, his exploitation by the Japanese, his re-education, and, ultimately, his obscure existence as just another peasant worker in the People’s Republic.
Chapter One – The Imperial Birthright
The Forbidden City was a mecca of power, splendour, and opulence, signifying the apex of imperial rule in China, with its red palace walls, gold-glazed finishes, and the iconic Tower of the Golden Water. In this highly-structured society, Emperor Pu Yi was the Son of Heaven, an entity chosen by the gods to rule on earth, the very embodiment of the nation’s identity. His destiny was set, his inheritance was assured, and his life was charted by the royal court.
At three years old, the young prince, Pu Yi, was chosen by the Empress Dowager, who acted on behalf of his father, to be the next emperor of China. The regent’s decision was made in the midst of a power struggle following the death of the Qing emperor Guangxu, who was believed to have been poisoned by his aunt, the Empress Dowager Cixi. To ensure stability, the Empress Dowager chose Pu Yi as the emperor, hoping that his presence in the Forbidden City would maintain the dynasty’s rule and guarantee her power as the ruler on behalf of the young Emperor.
Pu Yi’s life was heavily regimented, and his days were spent learning the history, politics, poetry, and calligraphy of China. He was given a Chinese-style education and was taught a vast array of subjects, some of which had been neglected by his predecessors. His primary tutor was a Scottish scholar, Reginald Johnston, who was selected to introduce western culture to the young emperor. Johnston taught Pu Yi how to play football, cricket, and ice skating. He was given a camera, a movie projector, and a phonograph, which made him one of the most cultured emperors of his time.
Pu Yi’s days were filled with pomp and ceremony. His subjects bowed to him, and he was hailed as a god by his people. His court was filled with drama, corruption and gossip, which his young mind was quick to understand, and he learned how to navigate the court’s intrigues.
Despite his young age, Pu Yi understood the importance of his role. He was the Emperor of China, and his power extended to every corner of the vast nation. His courtiers and ministers looked up to him for guidance, and his decisions weighed heavily on the fate of the empire. Pu Yi’s father died when he was just six years old, and his grandmother, the Empress Dowager Longyu, assumed control of the country. Pu Yi watched as she struggled with the pressures of ruling a nation and the court’s intrigue, and he became increasingly aware of the power struggles around him.
Pu Yi’s reign was short-lived. As he grew older, his courtiers and ministers became more ambitious, and the revolutionary fervour sweeping China could not be contained. The empire was no longer in his control, and he was forced to abdicate in 1912 at the age of six.
Pu Yi’s brief reign as the Emperor of China had come to an end. His fate was now in the hands of the new republican government, which had overthrown the Qing dynasty, and he was forced to leave the Forbidden City, his home for the past few years.
As he stepped out of the palace walls for the last time, he knew that his life would never be the same. Despite the hardships to come, Pu Yi was determined to continue living his life as he saw fit, but the winds of change would soon sweep him away and redefine his destiny.
Chapter Two – Behind the Walls of the Forbidden City
Pu Yi’s life within the Forbidden City was one of opulence and extravagance. He was revered and worshipped as a god by his subjects, and his slightest whim became a command. His upbringing was steeped in tradition, and he was taught to adhere to the strict hierarchies of the imperial court.
The young emperor was surrounded by eunuchs, who were tasked with his care and upbringing. They handled all of his needs, from dressing him to providing him with food and drink. Even the slightest deviation from the rigid protocol could result in severe punishment, and Pu Yi was taught to respect and fear the power wielded by the eunuchs.
Despite his sheltered upbringing, Pu Yi showed an extraordinary aptitude for learning, particularly when it came to languages. He learned to speak Manchu, the language of his ancestors, as well as Chinese and later, English. His Scottish tutor, Reginald Johnston, became a close friend and confidante, introducing him to modern technologies and western culture.
Reginald Johnston was an interesting figure in his own right. He was a scholar and a sinophile, with a deep interest in Chinese language and culture. He had made a name for himself as a translator and writer, and his love for China was evident in his work.
Pu Yi’s relationship with Johnston was a complex one. The young emperor was fascinated by the outside world and was eager to learn as much as he could. Johnston, in turn, was intrigued by the young emperor’s unique position and the insight it gave into the workings of the Forbidden City.
Together, they spent long hours discussing everything from philosophy to politics. Johnston encouraged Pu Yi to think for himself and to question the rigid traditions of the imperial court. For Pu Yi, it was a revelation. For the first time, he was able to see the world outside of the Forbidden City.
But even as Pu Yi broadened his horizons, he remained trapped within the confines of the palace walls. He was surrounded by court officials and eunuchs who kept him in a state of perpetual isolation. He rarely saw his mother, who was confined to the women’s quarters, and his father was a distant figure who spent most of his time entertaining his concubines.
Despite the isolation, Pu Yi found comfort in the traditions of the imperial court. He relished the formality and the strict hierarchy, and he was proud of his position as emperor. But even as he reveled in his status, he was becoming increasingly aware of the outside world. He heard stories of revolutionaries and rebels who were fighting to overthrow the imperial court, and he began to realize that his position was precarious.
Johnston continued to be a source of comfort and inspiration for Pu Yi, but even he was unable to protect the young emperor from the winds of change that were sweeping through China. As the revolution gathered momentum, Pu Yi began to realize that his days as emperor were numbered.
The chapter ends with Pu Yi staring out at the vast expanse of the Forbidden City, wondering what the future held for him and his people. The walls that had once protected him now seemed like a prison, and he longed to break free and explore the world beyond. But he knew that his destiny was tied to the Forbidden City, and that he would likely spend the rest of his life within its walls.
Chapter Three – The Fall of the Dynasty
As Pu Yi reaches adolescence, he becomes increasingly aware of the growing unrest among the Chinese people. Demonstrations and protests begin to spread, and the government struggles to contain them. Pu Yi is shielded from much of the outside world, but he senses that change is coming.
One day, he is summoned to meet with the Prime Minister, who informs him that the dynasty is coming to an end. The government has decided to abdicate, and Pu Yi is to be given the opportunity to do so voluntarily. The emperor is stunned, unable to process the news. He asks for time to consider his options.
In the following days, Pu Yi is bombarded with conflicting advice from the people around him. Some urge him to fight to maintain his throne, while others tell him to accept the inevitable and save himself. Pu Yi is torn, unsure of what to do. He turns to his Scottish tutor for guidance, but even he is unable to offer a clear answer.
As the deadline approaches, the pressure mounts. The prime minister warns Pu Yi that if he does not abdicate voluntarily, he will be forced to do so. The emperor knows that his choices are limited and reluctantly agrees to step down.
The abdication ceremony is a solemn affair, and Pu Yi is visibly distraught. He is stripped of his imperial robes and forced to wear civilian clothing. From that moment on, he is no longer Emperor, but a mere citizen of China. He is exiled from the Forbidden City, and the life he once knew is gone forever.
Pu Yi struggles to come to terms with his new life. He is no longer surrounded by courtiers and servants and must learn to fend for himself. He is moved to a new residence in the city, where he is given a meagre allowance and expected to live like any other citizen. It is a shock to his system.
At first, Pu Yi is resentful of his new circumstances. He longs for the opulence of the Forbidden City and resents the fact that he has been stripped of his power. He spends his days brooding and indulging in self-pity.
It is only when he meets a young woman, a former servant of the palace, that he begins to see things in a different light. She is a kind and gentle soul who shows him compassion and understanding. For the first time in years, Pu Yi feels a glimmer of hope.
He starts to venture out into the world and discovers a city in turmoil. The revolution has not brought the peace and prosperity that the people had hoped for. There is poverty and violence everywhere, and Pu Yi is shocked by what he sees.
As he begins to interact with the people around him, Pu Yi begins to understand the true nature of the revolution. He realizes that the government that replaced the dynasty is far from perfect. It is corrupt and inefficient, and the people are suffering.
Despite his limited income, Pu Yi uses his resources to help those in need. He becomes known for his generosity and kindness, and the people begin to see him in a new light. He may no longer be Emperor, but he is still a symbol of hope and compassion.
As the years go by, Pu Yi begins to accept his new life. He develops a new appreciation for the world around him and the people who inhabit it. He learns to live a simple life, free from the trappings of power and privilege. And yet, he never forgets his past. The Forbidden City will always be a part of him, a reminder of a time when he was the most powerful man in China.
But even as he comes to terms with his new life, Pu Yi knows that the revolution is not over. The country is still in turmoil, and there are more challenges to come. He may no longer be Emperor, but he is still a part of the history of China, and his legacy will live on.
Chapter Four – Life in Exile
Pu Yi’s life in exile was far from the luxurious and prestigious one he had enjoyed as the Emperor of China in the Forbidden City. After his forced abdication, he was exiled from his home, his people, and everything that had defined his privileged life. He found himself in a small estate in Peking, where he was left to live out his days as a civilian.
At first, Pu Yi struggled to adapt to his new life. The once-powerful emperor found himself reduced to a mere mortal. He missed the grandeur and extravagance of his life in the Forbidden City. He found it difficult to accept that he was no longer the most important person in the country.
Pu Yi’s daily life was a far cry from his royal past. He now had to do everything for himself. He had to dress himself, cook his own meals, and clean his own house. He was no longer waited on hand and foot. It was a humbling experience for him.
To make matters worse, Pu Yi became addicted to opium. He had been introduced to the drug by his Scottish tutor during his upbringing in the Forbidden City. The drug helped him to escape reality and forget about his troubles. But it also led him down a dangerous path of addiction.
Pu Yi spent most of his days indulging himself. He would spend long hours in his opium den, smoking the drug and dreaming of his past life. He would often invite his concubine, Wen Xiu, to join him. She was a beautiful woman, and he found her company comforting.
Despite being married, Pu Yi started having an affair with Wen Xiu. He was reckless and impulsive. He no longer cared about what people thought of him. He had lost everything, and he had nothing left to lose.
As time went on, Pu Yi’s decadent lifestyle caught up with him. He became unable to sustain himself financially. He had been stripped of his wealth and assets, and he had no means of making a living. He had to rely on the generosity of others to survive.
Pu Yi’s addiction to opium also worsened. He was unable to quit, and his health began to decline rapidly. His physical appearance deteriorated. He became a shadow of his former self.
Pu Yi’s days were filled with loneliness and despair. He had lost everything he had ever known and loved. He had no purpose in life. He was a fallen emperor, a man without a country.
But just when Pu Yi thought that things couldn’t get any worse, they did. The Japanese invaded China, and he was forced to work with them to maintain his power and privileges. He was once again trapped in a world that he could not control.
Pu Yi’s life in exile was a far cry from the life he had lived as the Emperor of China. He had lost everything, and he had nothing to show for it. His decadent lifestyle had caught up with him, and he was now paying the price for his reckless behavior. But little did he know that his worst days were still to come.
Chapter Five – Occupation by Japan
The sound of bombs and explosions echoed throughout Peking as the Japanese began their invasion of China. Pu Yi knew that his life would be forever changed by this invasion, and he was not wrong. The Japanese viewed him as a valuable asset, a way to legitimize their rule and control over China. Pu Yi was caught between two worlds, unsure of where his true allegiance lay.
The Japanese set up a puppet government with Pu Yi as the figurehead emperor. He was given the opportunity to rule once again, but under the control of the Japanese. The once-powerful emperor now had to kowtow to a foreign power, and he despised it. He knew that his power was a mere illusion, and that he was nothing but a puppet to be manipulated by the Japanese.
Despite his new status, Pu Yi remained isolated from the people he was supposed to be ruling over. He was forbidden from leaving his palace, and his only contact with the outside world was through his Japanese handlers. His frustration and anger grew day by day, and he became increasingly erratic and unpredictable.
Pu Yi’s opium addiction only served to exacerbate his problems. He would spend hours in a drug-fueled haze, lost in his own thoughts and fantasies. The Japanese saw this weakness and used it to their advantage, manipulating Pu Yi to do their bidding. He was too weak and too addicted to resist, and he knew it.
The once-mighty emperor was now a broken man, a shell of his former self. He had lost everything that was once important to him, his power, his status, and his freedom. He was nothing but a plaything for the Japanese, a tool to control China.
Despite his situation, Pu Yi remained obstinate in his beliefs. He was still convinced of his divine right to rule, even if it was under the control of a foreign power. He couldn’t comprehend that the world had moved on without him, that he was no longer the center of the universe.
As the war raged on, Pu Yi’s position became increasingly precarious. The Japanese were losing ground, and their control over China was slipping. Pu Yi knew that he had to make a decision, to either continue his puppet rule under the Japanese, or to side with his people and fight for his country’s independence.
In the end, Pu Yi made the only decision that he could. He sided with the Japanese, hoping that he could salvage some semblance of power and control. It was a decision that he would come to regret.
As the war came to an end, Pu Yi found himself alone and isolated once again. His puppet government had been disbanded, and he was no longer of any use to the Japanese. He was left to his own devices, forced to fend for himself in a world that he no longer understood.
It was a bitter end to a bitter life. Pu Yi had lost everything, his power, his status, his freedom, and ultimately his dignity. He had been used and abused by those around him, and he had nothing to show for it.
But even in his darkest moments, Pu Yi held onto the belief that he was still the emperor. He refused to let go of his divine right to rule, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It was a delusion that he clung to until the very end, a symbol of his stubbornness and his inability to adapt to the changing world around him.
And so Pu Yi faded into obscurity, just another footnote in the turbulent history of China. His legacy, once so powerful and all-encompassing, was reduced to nothing more than a memory. But for those who knew him, for those who understood the depth of his tragedy and the complexity of his character, Pu Yi would always remain a figure of fascination and intrigue, a symbol of a time long gone.
Chapter Six – The End of the Occupation
Pu Yi had finally achieved what he had always dreamed of – power and control. But as he stood on the steps of his palace, watching the Japanese soldiers march in, he knew that everything was about to change.
The Japanese were not interested in maintaining the imperial system; they saw Pu Yi as just another puppet to control. Despite this, Pu Yi saw an opportunity to maintain his own power and privileges. He made a deal with the Japanese, agreeing to work with them to maintain his position as emperor.
At first, things seemed to work out well for Pu Yi. He was given everything he wanted – lavish banquets, expensive gifts, and the ability to do as he pleased. He was even given a Japanese tutor who taught him the art of war and politics, and he quickly learned how to maintain his power in this new environment.
But as time went on, Pu Yi’s power began to wane. His Japanese allies became increasingly demanding, and he was forced to make more and more concessions. He was no longer in control; he was simply a pawn in their game.
Despite this, Pu Yi remained determined to maintain his power and control. He became increasingly detached from reality, more concerned with maintaining his own power than the welfare of his people. He made increasingly unpopular decisions, including collaborating with the Japanese to exploit the Chinese people for his own gain.
As the war drew to a close, Pu Yi’s situation became increasingly precarious. The Chinese people viewed him as a traitor, and he was afraid for his life. He begged his Japanese allies to protect him, but they abandoned him as the war drew to a close.
Pu Yi was left to fend for himself. He was taken into custody by the Chinese government and sentenced to a re-education camp. At first, he resisted the new regime, but as he began to learn more about the new China, he began to see things in a different light.
He learned about the great strides the Chinese people had made in modernizing their country and realized that he had been living in a bubble. He had been blinded by his own desires for power and control, and he had lost touch with the needs of his people.
Pu Yi slowly began to adapt to a new way of life. He worked in the fields alongside other peasants, and he was grateful for the opportunity to contribute to society in a meaningful way. He began to see the value in hard work and realized that he had been given a second chance.
Pu Yi’s time in the re-education camp was not easy, but it was a turning point in his life. He learned to embrace the new China and to accept responsibility for his past mistakes. He realized that he had been given the gift of a new beginning, and he was determined to make the most of it.
As he left the camp and returned to civilian life, Pu Yi knew that he would never be the same again. He had learned the hard way that power and control were not the keys to happiness. He had finally come to understand that true happiness could only be found by living a simple, honest life.
Pu Yi lived out his final days as a gardener, tending to the plants and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. He was content with his life and had come to terms with his past. He died quietly, his legacy forever tied to the turbulent history of China.
Chapter Seven – The Return to Society
Pu Yi stepped out of the re-education camp gates, a free man once again. The sun was shining, and the birds were chirping, but Pu Yi could not shake off the feeling of unease that lingered within him. For the first time in his life, he was outside the walls of the Forbidden City, but he was a stranger in a strange land. The China he had left behind had changed beyond recognition. He looked around, and the streets were bustling with people rushing to and fro. New technologies and modern architecture had replaced the old ways, and he was lost in the sea of progress.
Pu Yi’s return to society brought on a wave of emotions he had not felt before. The once-mighty emperor was now just a relic of a bygone era. He had lost his power, his rank, and his identity. Stripped of everything he used to be, he was now just a man trying to survive in an unfamiliar world.
As he walked down the street, Pu Yi felt as if he was an observer, watching the world go by from a distance. He was no longer an important figure, no longer the ruler of a billion people. He was just a man, and that was a hard reality to accept.
The first few months of Pu Yi’s release were challenging. He struggled to find his place in society, having spent most of his life in a closed-off world. He wandered the streets, looking for a purpose, but he found nothing. He was a stranger in his own country, lost and alone.
He soon realized that he had to adapt to the new China if he wanted to survive. Pu Yi began to attend lectures, read newspapers, and listen to the radio, trying to understand the world he had been isolated from. He learned about the political changes brought about by Mao Zedong and the Communist Party and their vision of a new China.
Pu Yi also met a man named Zhang, a fellow re-educated prisoner who had become a member of the Communist Party. Zhang took Pu Yi under his wing and introduced him to the local community. Zhang saw potential in Pu Yi, and he encouraged him to join the party.
Pu Yi was initially hesitant, as he knew that it would mean renouncing his imperial past, but he eventually came to see the new China as his home. He was no longer the emperor, but he could still serve his country in a new way. He joined the party and started to work as a laborer at a factory in Beijing.
Although it was a humble job, Pu Yi found meaning in his work. He learned new skills, made friends, and started to live a life of purpose. He no longer felt like an outsider but, instead, like a member of society.
As Pu Yi settled into his new life, he encountered an old acquaintance – Wen, who had once been his concubine. Wen had also gone through a difficult period and had found herself on the fringes of society. She was living alone in a small apartment, barely making ends meet.
Pu Yi saw the pain in Wen’s eyes and realized that, even though they had been through different paths, they shared a common struggle. They rekindled their relationship, but it was different now. It was built on mutual respect and understanding. They were no longer the emperor and his concubine, but two people trying to make sense of a world in flux.
Pu Yi’s time in the factory helped him to see the world through a new lens. He had been given a chance to start over, and he was determined to make the most of it. As he worked alongside his fellow laborers, he gained a newfound respect for the working class. He realized that they were the backbone of society, and that their struggles were the same as his own.
Pu Yi’s transformation from an emperor to a worker was a remarkable one. He had gone from being one of the most powerful men in the world to a man who worked with his hands. But he had found a sense of purpose and fulfillment that he had never thought possible.
As he walked home from the factory one day, Pu Yi felt a sense of contentment that he had never felt before. He knew that he was a different man than the one who had walked out of the re-education camp gates months ago. He had found a new identity, a new home, and a new family. He was no longer the emperor, but he was still Pu Yi, a man who had finally found his place in the world.
Chapter Eight – The Final Days
Pu Yi sat on the bench in the garden, his hands folded in his lap. He watched as the leaves on the trees turned from green to gold, as autumn slipped into winter. He felt a sense of peace that he had never experienced before. He had come to terms with his past, and he was content with his present.
Only a handful of people visited him now. His wife and children had long since passed away, and even his closest friends had drifted away over the years. But he didn’t mind. He had found solace in his work, tending to the garden, and he was grateful for the few moments of companionship that came his way.
One day, a young woman appeared at the gate. She was dressed in a simple cotton dress, her long hair tied back in a bun. Pu Yi recognized her from the neighborhood. She was a newcomer, but she had a gentle manner that he found appealing.
“Can I help you?” he asked, rising from his bench.
“I’m sorry to disturb you,” she said. “But I’ve heard about your garden, and I was wondering if I could take a look.”
Pu Yi smiled. He was always happy to share his passion with others. “Of course,” he said. “Come in.”
The young woman walked past him, her eyes scanning the garden. Pu Yi watched as she paused by a bed of roses, bending down to inhale their fragrance. He felt a sudden sense of nostalgia, remembering a time when he had taken such simple pleasures for granted.
“Your garden is beautiful,” she said, turning back to him. “How did you learn to do all this?”
“I’ve been tending to this garden for many years,” he said. “It’s my life’s work.”
They walked together, Pu Yi pointing out the different plants and flowers, his voice soft and measured. The young woman listened intently, asking him questions and nodding in understanding.
As they neared the gate, she turned to him. “Thank you for showing me your garden. I’ve learned so much.”
“It was my pleasure,” Pu Yi said. “Please feel free to come back anytime.”
The young woman smiled, and for a moment, Pu Yi thought he saw a glimmer of hope in her eyes. He realized that he had found a new purpose in life – to share his knowledge and his passion with others.
As he watched her walk away, he felt a sense of contentment. He had come a long way from his days as emperor, and he was proud of the man he had become. He had faced countless challenges, but he had emerged stronger, wiser, and more compassionate.
Pu Yi walked back to his bench and sat down, his eyes closed. He felt the sun on his face, warmth spreading through his body. He knew that his time was coming to an end, but he was ready. He had lived a full life, and he was at peace.
As he drifted off to sleep, he thought of all the people he had met, all the experiences he had had. He knew that his legacy would live on, that his story would be told for generations to come. And he was content, knowing that he had played his part in the turbulent history of China.
Some scenes from the movie The Last Emperor written by A.I.
– Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China
– Empress Wan Rong, Pu Yi’s wife
– Chen Bao Shen, Pu Yi’s loyal adviser
– Reginald Johnston, Pu Yi’s Scottish tutor
The Forbidden City in Beijing, China. A grand, elaborate palace complex where Pu Yi was born and raised as the Emperor.
Pu Yi: “I am the Emperor of China, and I deserve respect and obedience.”
Empress Wan Rong: “Your highness, please be patient. We must consider the welfare of our people.”
Chen Bao Shen: “Your Majesty, I advise caution. The court is filled with treacherous officials who seek to undermine your rule.”
Reginald Johnston: “Your highness, you must learn to balance tradition with modernity. It is the only way to ensure the survival of the dynasty.”
Scene 1: The Imperial Birthright
EXT. THE FORBIDDEN CITY – NIGHT
The camera pans over the grand Gate of Heavenly Purity, the entrance to the Forbidden City. Guards stand watch as a procession of officials make their way through the gate.
INT. THE FORBIDDEN CITY – THRONE ROOM
Pu Yi sits on his throne, surrounded by officials. Empress Wan Rong stands next to him. The officials bow and kowtow before him.
“I am the Son of Heaven, the Emperor of China. You must respect my authority and obey my commands.”
EMPRESS WAN RONG:
“Your highness, please remember that our people look to you for guidance and protection. We must always consider their welfare.”
CHEN BAO SHEN:
“Your Majesty, I advise caution. There are many who seek to undermine your rule and seize power for themselves.”
“Your highness, you must learn to balance tradition with modernity. It is the only way to ensure the survival of the dynasty.”
The camera zooms in on Pu Yi’s face. He looks determined and confident, but also vulnerable.
INT. THE FORBIDDEN CITY – PU YI’S BEDROOM
Pu Yi lies in his bed, surrounded by his attendants. He is only three years old, but already he is being groomed to rule China.
EXT. THE FORBIDDEN CITY – DAY
The camera pans over the grand architecture of the Forbidden City – the ornate roofs, the intricate carvings, the red and gold banners fluttering in the breeze.
CUT TO BLACK.
END OF SCENE 1.
EXT. THE FORBIDDEN CITY – DAY
We see a large, ornately decorated palace in the heart of Beijing. The camera zooms in to reveal the Imperial Palace, also known as the Forbidden City. A young boy, dressed in a rich, silk robe, is being carried through the palace by servants.
INT. IMPERIAL PALACE – DAY
The young boy is introduced to his new tutor, REGINALD, a stern-looking man in his thirties.
PU YI: (in Mandarin) Who are you?
REGINALD: (in Mandarin) I am Reginald. Your new tutor.
PU YI: (in Mandarin) I don’t want a new tutor.
REGINALD: (in Mandarin) I’m afraid you don’t have a choice, Your Highness.
The camera follows Pu Yi and Reginald as they walk through the palace. Pu Yi is visibly uncomfortable and fidgety.
REGINALD: (in English) Your Highness, I’ll do my best to teach you everything you need to know to become a great emperor.
PU YI: (in English) Why do I need to learn English?
REGINALD: (in English) English is the language of the world, Your Highness. You need to be able to communicate effectively with foreign dignitaries.
INT. IMPERIAL PALACE – LATER THAT DAY
Pu Yi is sitting in a classroom, trying to pay attention to Reginald’s lesson. Reginald is showing him a globe.
REGINALD: (in English) This is a globe, Your Highness. It shows us the entire world.
PU YI: (in Mandarin) The entire world? That’s impossible.
REGINALD: (in English) Not impossible, Your Highness. Just difficult to comprehend. But I assure you, it’s all here.
Pu Yi looks skeptical, but he’s clearly intrigued.
INT. IMPERIAL PALACE – THAT NIGHT
Pu Yi is lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling. He’s clearly troubled.
PU YI: (in Mandarin) Reginald?
REGINALD: (in English) Yes, Your Highness?
PU YI: (in Mandarin) Will you teach me more about the outside world?
REGINALD: (in English) Of course, Your Highness. But you must promise to keep an open mind.
Pu Yi nods, and the camera slowly fades to black.
Setting: The Forbidden City, Peking
Characters: Pu Yi (The Last Emperor), Li Hongzhang (Senior Statesman), Empress Dowager Cixi (Pu Yi’s Aunt)
INT. THE FORBIDDEN CITY – DAY
The camera pans across the Forbidden City as the sound of horses and gunfire echo through the streets. Pu Yi is hiding in his chambers, clutching onto the imperial seal.
Pu Yi: (to himself) How did it come to this?
Li Hongzhang enters the room, looking weary.
Li Hongzhang: (sighs) Your Majesty, we must flee. The rebels have taken the city.
Pu Yi: (proudly) I am the Emperor, I will not run.
Empress Dowager Cixi enters the room, looking regal.
Empress Dowager Cixi: (to Pu Yi) My nephew, it is time to accept reality. The dynasty is over.
Pu Yi: (defeated) What will become of me?
Empress Dowager Cixi: (stroking Pu Yi’s hair) You will abdicate and retire to your estate. You will live the rest of your days in peace.
Li Hongzhang: (empathetically) I will escort you to your estate, Your Majesty.
Pu Yi: (resigned) I have no choice.
The camera zooms in on the imperial seal as Pu Yi places it on a table.
Pu Yi: (voiceover) It was the end of an era.
The camera fades to black as the sound of footsteps and the clanging of the imperial seal are heard.
INT. PALACE – DAY
Pu Yi sits on the throne, surrounded by his loyal subjects. He looks down at the people with an air of superiority.
I am the Emperor and ruler of the world. All will bow before me.
The Scottish tutor watches from the sidelines, concern etched on his face.
Your Majesty, perhaps it’s time we discuss something that’s been weighing on my mind.
What is it?
Your Majesty has been indulging in opium and engaging in extramarital affairs. This behavior is unbecoming of a ruler.
How dare you speak to me in such a manner. I am the Emperor, and I do as I please.
Your Majesty, I am only looking out for your best interests. If you continue down this path, you will lose everything.
Pu Yi dismisses the tutor with a wave of his hand and turns to his concubine, a seductive look on his face.
Come, my dear. Let us indulge ourselves.
As they start to leave, a group of soldiers barge in, led by a general.
Your Majesty, I am afraid you are under arrest for your crimes against the people.
Pu Yi looks shocked as the soldiers drag him away.
FADE TO BLACK.
INT. PALACE – DAY
We see Japanese soldiers marching through the palace halls, and their footsteps echo loudly in the opulent surroundings. Emperor Pu Yi is sitting on his throne, surrounded by his advisors. The tension is palpable.
PU YI: (Nervously) What do the Japanese want from us?
ADVISOR 1: (Whispering) They want us to help them maintain control over China.
ADVISOR 2: (Scoffing) They should know better than to think we would betray our own people.
Suddenly, the doors burst open, and a Japanese commander enters the room, flanked by his troops. He approaches Pu Yi with a smug look on his face.
COMMANDER: (In Japanese, Subtitled) Emperor Pu Yi, I have a proposal for you.
PU YI: (Confused) What kind of proposal?
COMMANDER: (Smirking) We will help you maintain your position as emperor, but you must pledge your loyalty to Japan.
Pu Yi looks around the room, and his advisors are silent, unsure of what to do. The commander senses his hesitation and continues.
COMMANDER: (Sternly) Time is running out, Your Highness. We need your answer.
Pu Yi takes a deep breath and stands up, facing the commander.
PU YI: (Resolutely) I am the son of China, and my loyalty lies with my people. I will never betray them.
The commander looks furious and raises his hand to signal his troops. Suddenly, gunfire erupts, and the room is thrown into chaos. Pu Yi is quickly whisked away by his loyal guards, narrowly escaping the attack.
As they make their way through the palace, Pu Yi looks around at the destruction and realizes that the Japanese have declared war on China. He knows that his people will suffer, and he must find a way to protect them, even if it means making difficult choices.
PU YI: (Determined) We must prepare for war. Our people need us now more than ever before.
The guards nod in agreement, and the scene ends with Emperor Pu Yi and his loyal subjects standing strong against the invading forces.