The Last Emperor [Original Soundtrack] album cover
The Last Emperor [Original Soundtrack]

Ryuichi Sakamoto , David Byrne , Cong Su


Tantalizing though it might seem from the shared credit at the top of the cover, the soundtrack to Bernardo Bertolucci’s epic 1987 film The Last Emperor is actually not a collaboration between Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Byrne. Instead, the scoring duties were split between them. On the album, Byrne’s cues were gathered on one side, Sakamoto’s on the other. Sakamoto strikes a balance between classical Chinese instrumentation, dramatic orchestrations, and delicate Fairlight ambience (programmed by Hans Zimmer). Their sensibilities might have been split, but nevertheless, the score garnered both Sakamoto and Byrne an Oscar and a Grammy.

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