There are certain classics we've yet to see because we wanted to wait until we got a chance to check them out in a theater. (We don't care how big your TV is, trust us, you've got to watch "Lawrence of Arabia" on the big screen.) One such movie that's eluded us is "The Last Emperor," director Bernardo Bertolucci's 1987 Best Picture-winning epic. We've passed up several chances to catch it on TCM because we felt confident it would play at one of L.A.'s revival theaters at some point. Well, it turns out we may get a chance to see it soon -- but maybe not the way we wanted. Yes, it's the latest film to be part of the 3D-conversion bandwagon.
The Playlist uncovered this revelation in a Guardian piece that was tracking odds-and-ends film news. Producer Jeremy Thomas (who won the Best Picture Oscar for the film) says that they're just starting the process but that it's set to come out "late next year" and that it's being supervised by the film's Oscar-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and overseen by Bertolucci, who won Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Thus far when you've heard about movies getting 3D re-releases, they've been big blockbusters like "Titanic" and "Top Gun" and the "Star Wars" movies. The only thing "Titanic" and "The Last Emperor" have in common is that they're big spectacles that won Best Picture. Are we really entering an era when some of the most visually striking arthouse movies are going to come back to theaters gussied up in 3D? If so, that's probably as sure a sign as any that 3D is not going anywhere for quite some time.
It wasn't unusual in the past for classic films to get re-released in extended editions with restored sound and picture -- or, in the case of "Touch of Evil," a re-edited version based on director-star Orson Welles' specific notes -- so you could say that this "Last Emperor" is just the newest iteration of that model. But we have to admit that the appeal of waiting to see certain movies in the theater is that we wanted to see, y'know, the original version of that film. But we realize we get no traction making arguments like that. Grrr, we like things the way they used to be! We're old and grumpy! And who made off with our Victrola?!?