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Empire of the Sun (1987)

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

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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Popularity
1,834 ( 460)
Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 12 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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:

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

25 December 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El imperio del sol  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$22,238,696 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Steven Spielberg had planned a long, continuous shot when Jim was standing on top of the building at the prison camp, watching the American planes bomb the airfields. The shot was very complicated and would require a single take. He gave instructions to Christian Bale to get excited, jump up and down, and run around on the rooftop as the planes passed and the bombs went off. However, Bale became nervous as the stunts began, and didn't do much of anything. Since most of the explosions had been used up on this shot, Spielberg (after having some soft, fatherly words with the young Bale) improvised with several shots from different close-up angles, eventually getting Bale to give a more excited performance. See more »

Goofs

The cargo pants Jamie Graham wore were either M51 or M65 model of US Army, both were issued much later after the time of the movie (1941-1945). See more »

Quotes

[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 ...
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Soundtracks

Chopin Mazurka Opus 17 No. 4
Written by Frédéric Chopin
Arranged and Conducted by John Williams
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

ASTOUNDING
13 December 2004 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

I came across this film while I was flipping through the channels on my t.v. This is truly an astounding film. The inimitable dialogue, the dazzling scenes, and most importantly the profundity of its premise make this film unforgettable and worthy of sycophantic obsession. I was completely enraptured by the brilliant acting. I believe this is Steven Spielberg's most noteworthy film. His other movies pale in comparison to this one. John Malkovich and Christian Bale are incredible as usual, but in this film they bring to life a story of a boy who loses everything due to a country trying to conquer everything. The physical and mental destruction of war and the injurious effects of loneliness are very clichéd themes, but this film conveys them in an incomparable way. This is undoubtedly one of my favorite films, and I suggest that everyone take the time to watch it. It would be exceedingly foolish of one to not watch it.


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