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The Charlotte Observer from Charlotte, North Carolina • Page 65
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The Charlotte Observer from Charlotte, North Carolina • Page 65

Charlotte, North Carolina
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i 11 i Zile Cho Sunday 1 FT- 11Plerft le- Zile Sunday Entertainment (Charlotte (Observer February 7 1988 Section VI leles )us Tie In in ur td his Es) -1- i les )us ur- ne A YN A TN -1 td 1 his 'i ct 1 1 I 41-do I 1 1 :11 t'''t01' I ittf i 1 1 if 110--11w 4 1 0 I '1 itlrA 'i' 1 110 141" 1 e'It t(tio '''''''''k 1 ''4 ''k "ilktS41103' '1 -'ii'' -iTI'Al'R''''''''''' grail 1" 3' '01 o''' t' 4 1 0 1 titit 0err :41 ty eqo 11411c46 i 0 41 7 '11 Ii--- '4- 111111 i-' t'llt 1 1 a s'': ili (It(Ir 'PP A -7' '12 st i' 't 1 Fti )': I ot''''i r04 "st'illi -To 1) -10 ''t 1- I --'t 0 011 ii- ifk ft det 1 I 'i 4k' 0 CP 1 T' ''S -i portray him as he grows up and John Lone (right) plays the adult emperor "The Last Emperor" an epic of China during the 20th Richard Vuu (from left) appears as the youngest Pu VI century follows the life of its last emperor Pu Yi upon his coronation in 1908 Tijger Tsou and Wu Tao li ail -t of in in is le 1 4 Peeking Into Chinese History Through The Eyes Of 'The Last Emperor' II'! ood movies like saddle horses have their own rhythms 7' "Wall Street" bucks along at a furious gait for most of its wild ride "Broadcast News" eats up ground with long smooth strides The Last Emperor" on the other hoof has a leisurely rocking pace over 2 hours and 46 minutes If you fight it you won't enjoy the trip But if you relax and allow it to carry you it'll take you places you've never been Pu Yi China's final imperial ruler assumed his throne as a child and died a gardener under Mao tung's Communist regime Reel His adulthood was a languid de-Life scent from a great height and the movie unwinds with a slow powerful Lawrence grandeur Though his life meant too TopiDman little for his fate to be a tragedy this biography uses him to explore an era long hidden from Western eyes Bernardo Bertolucci's epic has finally come to Char'' lotte By now it's famous yet unheralded controversial yet unseen by much of America Last month "Emperor" won Golden Globe awards sometimes precursors to the Academy Awards for best drama screenplay score and director Bertolucci Yet it slipped into town Friday with virtually no advertising beyond preview trailers and a press screening two months ago Columbia Pictures opened the movie in December in a ew major markets making it eligible for Oscars then kept it from the rest of the country Nine weeks after its opening it has reached only 91 screens earning about $9 million A Columbia official in Atlanta said the company feared it might be lost among other blockbusters in a strong Christmas season Wide release of Steven Spiel-berg's "Empire of the Sun" which has a similar title and is also set in China during mid-century might have caused confusion Columbia needn't have worried Anyone who sees this gorgeous sprawling picture will be nagged by its images long after The crimson walls of Beijing's Forbidden City where Pu Yi was imprisoned during part of his reign tower highest in memory There he lived in silk-robed splendor among tutors and courtesans 185 cooks and 840 guards Bertolucci was the first Westerner allowed to film behind those walls and the first to shoot a feature in China since the Communists took power in 1949 He needed four years to make this movie and he fills the screen with panoramic images that reflect all of his $24 million budget ood rhyth tvk for 4 eats up ground 4 471 Reel Life Lawrence Topiman 4 Bernardo Bertoli lotte By now it's yet unseen by mucI Last month "En sometimes precurm drama screenplay slipped into town beyond preview tra ago Columbia Pictun ew major markets kept it from the ref opening it has reac million A Columbia ofi feared it might be strong Christmas berg's "Empire oft is also set in Chi caused confusion Columbia needn' gorgeous sprawlinE long after The crimson wal Pu Yi was imprisc highest in memory among tutors and Bertolucci was 1 behind those walls China since the CI needed four years screen with panora million budget 1( 4::14 -'p' 4'4''i '''t 0 ::::1: i A t''1': 2 '''''r'-' 4:: '174''" -i 2 Co i y4t- mSfx- 'i''" 4174vK r-P" 4 um 'i 4 II '--P :04 ''i ''f 4 ke Epics haven't been consistently popular since the 1950s and they get some critics' danders up Unless huge movies have unassailable social messages like the one in "Gandhi" they often become huge targets For example Stanley Kubrick's films "2001" "Barry Lyndon" are regularly criticized as immense soulless things of great beauty and no heart Some reviewers have also derided "Emperor" as an overblown period piece a chance for photographer Vittorio Storaro and designer Scartiotti to drown us in nostalgic splendor Nearly plotless though it is the movie does have a focus: the frustration of a man who longed for a free ordinary life but had to wear his useless crown Pu Yi took the throne at 3 was rendered powerless a few years later by warlords and was expelled from his palace in 1924 when he was 18 The Japanese made him puppet emperor of Manchuria when they occupied that region in the 1930s and the Chinese blamed him for war crimes committed during his hollow regime (A Japanese film distributor recently cut scenes of those atrocities fearing to inflame audiences after half a century They were put back when Bertolucci complained) The Soviets jailed Pu Yi after World War II Then he spent nine years being "reeducated" to communism in a Chinese prison he was released in 1959 and died a few years later in Beijing apparently a quiet convert to the party but possibly just a shrewd survivor The script by Mark Peploe and Bertolucci may not be accurtte Pu Yi who has a wife and concubine here was homosexual by at least one report Yet it has the ring of reality When 1500 eunuchs are expelled from the palace they march across the vast courtyard carrying their genitalia in small boxes as a tutor tells Pu Yi they wish to be "buried whole" Bertolucci best known in America for the scandalous "Last Tango In Paris" has made many political movies: "Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man" "The Conformist" "The Spider's Strategem" "Before the Revolution" Because he's a Marxist he presumably sees Pu Yi's fall as a liberating event While the monarch reigns his country falls apart and his wife drifts into opium addiction He's a meal ticket to lackeys and a popular but empty symbol of tradition to the masses His life is an extravagant waste until he finds a small but useful niche growing plants But Bertolucci started as a poet and a romantic and "Emperor" also celebrates the glory of the tottering empire The Forbidden City today an attraction for tourists from East and West came from a civilization that exalted men the Communist Party makes them equals in a drab dreary world John Lone a Chinese-American actor born in Hong Kong has the challenging title role He gives a low-key See PEEKING Next Page 5 I i I 1 Columbia Pictures Peter O'Toole plays Pu Yi's English tutor pMMEM j- 1 4 )-40ta1ii 4A 111 Novel Helped Student Writer Beat Stroke Nov By DANNYE ROMINE Book Editor By Betts says she has her students keep journals to get them in the habit of writing a lot and discovering that not everything they write has to be good "It builds up a treasury of thoughts you might use sometime" she says by telephone from Chapel Hill "Garret was one of those students who took it seriously and for her it turned into what one always hopes it will turn into "Part of her success comes out of her willingness to write steadily That's one reason I think Garret will go on because she continues to write in good times and bad" i I 7''' 1 I I 1 I 1 I I 1-- ri I r-) --4- 4 -x 7-7: Ht'''' i 3- 0 7: 41 i 7 '1:) (filk -1 1 -1 i- ''mitig 1 41o- ottitkw i 41 --21 4 'k rI' Lr'--- cr r'''' 1 I I "I wrote myself well" she says in a first-person article in the February issue of Glamour magazine Now that she's well she's still writing to keep herself happy "I have found nothing that compares with the feeling" she says by telephone from her brownstone apartment in Philadelphia "I thank God every day that I'd had a writing class before I had the stroke" Weyr was a second-semester sophomore when she signed up for a writing class with UNC novelist Doris Betts "Mrs Betts got me in the habit of writing" says Weyr "She had you take a journal around with you and write things all the time" Weyr had her journal with her one day when she was chatting with a friend outside the student union "We were talking and this girl passed by and my friend said 'She's really pretty' "I said 'I know that girl and she's a moron' "My friend said 'It doesn't matter She's pretty' "The idea that being pretty excuses a whole slew of bad things just kind of left me speechless" says Weyr That conversation which Weyr recorded in her journal became a poem "Pretty Girls" Later after the stroke it would become the nucleus of the novel Her mother's voice still breaks when she says the date Sept 14 1984 That was the day Rhoda Weyr's tall red-haired daughter Garret Weyr then a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill suffered a A Ix 1" t'sti stroke that made dead weight of kz her left side forehead to toe Last spring Garret Weyr (pronounced graduated from UNC with honors She was so completely recovered from her paralysis that during the middle of the and graduation ceremonies she left Kenan Weyr Stadium and walked the 2 miles home in her graduation robe Today she can walk and run and swim She can also write Her just-released first novel "Pretty Girls" (Crown $1595) is a coming-of-age tale set on the UNC campus Last week Weyr 23 was on the "Today Show" This week she will be in Greensboro Raleigh and Chapel Hill promoting "Pretty Girls" Weyr says if it were not for her stroke she probably wouldn't have written a novel Her mother's date Sept 14 198 That was 1 Weyr's tall red Garret Weyr UNC-Chapel stroke that mad her left side fol Last spring nounced UNC with bor completely rec( paralysis that of the ation ceremoni( Stadium and home in her gr2 Today she ci She can also "Pretty Girls" tale set on the 1 Last week This week she Chapel Hill pro Weyr says probably would '1' '111eX For Weyr the bad times started on a hot September afternoon She was reading a Margaret Atwood novel when the stroke hit One doctor called it a "complicated migraine" Another said a muscle in her heart allowed a clot into the bloodstream Another says Weyr had the good grace to say he didn't know and didn't think it mattered What did matter was that she was sick and she was angry "I felt excluded from certain rights I should've See STUDENT Page 7F Garret Weyr's first novel "Pretty Girls" is a coming-of-age tale set on the UNC campus Garret WeveR first nnycti Prottv rtirto Jo I.

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