Up 11 this week

Empire of the Sun (1987)

PG  |   |  Drama, History, War  |  25 December 1987 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.8/10 from 83,705 users   Metascore: 60/100
Reviews: 287 user | 56 critic | 17 from Metacritic.com

A young English boy struggles to survive under Japanese occupation during World War II.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video


10 Best Action Heroes

We consulted IMDb's Highest-Rated Action-Family Films to came up with 10 scene-stealing action figures your kids can relate to, look up to, and be inspired by.

Visit our Family Entertainment Guide

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 39 titles
created 08 Dec 2010
a list of 37 titles
created 01 Mar 2012
a list of 46 titles
created 25 May 2012
a list of 40 titles
created 02 Dec 2012
a list of 21 titles
created 10 months ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Empire of the Sun (1987)

Empire of the Sun (1987) on IMDb 7.8/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Empire of the Sun.

User Polls

Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 12 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A black Southern woman (Whoopi Goldberg) struggles to find her identity after suffering years of abuse from her father and others over 40 years.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey
Munich (2005)
Drama | History | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Based on the true story of the Black September aftermath, about the five men chosen to eliminate the ones responsible for that fateful day.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Marie-Josée Croze
Amistad (1997)
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

About a 1839 mutiny aboard a slave ship that is traveling towards the northeastern coast of America. Much of the story involves a court-room drama about the free man who led the revolt.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey, Anthony Hopkins
War Horse (2011)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Young Albert enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry. Albert's hopeful journey takes him out of England and to the front lines as the war rages on.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

After an encounter with U.F.O.s, a line worker feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr
Always (1989)
Drama | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A romantic adventure about a legendary pilot's passion for dare-devil firefighting and his girl.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, Brad Johnson
Adventure | Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A highly advanced robotic boy longs to become "real" so that he can regain the love of his human mother.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor
Adventure | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A woman attempts to reunite her family by helping her husband escape prison and together kidnapping their son. But things don't go as planned when they are forced to take a police hostage on the road.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Goldie Hawn, Ben Johnson, Michael Sacks
Duel (TV Movie 1971)
Action | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A business commuter is pursued and terrorized by a malevolent driver of a massive tractor-trailer.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott, Eddie Firestone
1941 (1979)
Action | Comedy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Hysterical Californians prepare for a Japanese invasion in the days after Pearl Harbor.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Treat Williams
Lincoln (2012)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

As the Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn
35 Aside (1996)
Comedy | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Director: Damien O'Donnell
Stars: James Mahon, Maria Hayden, Moira Deady


Cast overview, first billed only:
Mrs. Victor
Dr. Rawlins
Masatô Ibu ...
Emily Richard ...
Mary Graham, Jim's mother
Rupert Frazer ...
Peter Gale ...
Mr. Victor
Takatarô Kataoka ...
Kamikaze Boy Pilot (as Takatoro Kataoka)
David Neidorf ...
Mr. Lockwood


Based on J. G. Ballard's autobiographical novel, tells the story of a boy, James Graham, whose privileged life is upturned by the Japanese invasion of Shanghai, December 8, 1941. Separated from his parents, he is eventually captured, and taken to Soo Chow confinement camp, next to a captured Chinese airfield. Amidst the sickness and food shortages in the camp, Jim attempts to reconstruct his former life, all the while bringing spirit and dignity to those around him. Written by Jeff Hansen <jmh@umich.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

japanese | british | food | pow | pilot | See All (279) »


To survive in a world at war, he must find a strength greater than all the events that surround him.


Drama | History | War


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



| |

Release Date:

25 December 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El imperio del sol  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)


$22,238,696 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Tom Stoppard's script was originally written for director Harold Becker. See more »


In the scene where the P-51D pilot waves at Jim, just before the close-up of the pilot, a white Range Rover can be seen parked on the airfield as the Mustang passes. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: [title card] In 1941 China and Japan had been in a state of undeclared war for four years. A Japanese army of occupation was in control of much of the countryside and many towns and cities. In Shanghai thousands of Westerners, protected by the diplomatic security of the International Settlement, continued to live as they had lived since the British came here in the 19th century and built in the image of their own country... built banking houses, hotels, offices, churches and homes ...
See more »


The British Grenadiers
Arranged and Conducted by John Williams
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Extraordinary performance from Christian Bale
31 May 2004 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

I had put off watching this until recently, I do not know why, I had not read reviews and for some reason imagined it to be a movie about a young Japanese prince(!!).

I was captivated by the performance of Christian Bale as a privileged young boy named Jim Graham, growing up in Shanghai, very far removed from the poverty and despair all around him. When war breaks out, this changes him forever and hence the story.

After some harrowing experiences he winds up in a prisoner of war camp where he befriends some interesting characters and quickly adapts to a life of conniving and subterfuge to survive.

The transformation of Jim is beautifully captured, Steven Spielberg is a gifted director of child actors and gets a maximum performance always.

I was enthralled from beginning to end, young Jim was forever changed by his experiences and this change is portrayed starkly here when he is finally reunited with his parents.

8 out of 10 for equally impressive performances from John Malkovich and Miranda Richardson, but Christian Bale's performance deserved an Oscar.

74 of 89 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
P51 Cadillac of the Sky - Best Aviation Scene of all times tobedobedo
Was Bale blind in the end of the movie? KilliK
Anyone else have a problem with the A-bomb bit? fabrice4211
Spielberg's Best Film? alj_Turin
What does Sargent Nagata say to Jim just before he leaves the camp? jimmelnh
Ben Stiller kberenson
Discuss Empire of the Sun (1987) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: