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Empire of the Sun (1987)

 -  Drama | History | War  -  25 December 1987 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 78,983 users   Metascore: 60/100
Reviews: 282 user | 55 critic | 17 from Metacritic.com

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

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Empire of the Sun (1987)

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Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 13 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Jim
...
...
Mrs. Victor
...
Dr. Rawlins
...
...
Maxton
Masatô Ibu ...
Sgt. Nagata
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
Edit

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:

japanese | british | food | pow | pilot | 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  »

Box Office

Budget:

$38,000,000 (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
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Suo Gân", the movie's theme song, is a lullaby sung in Welsh. Director Steven Spielberg chose it after casting Welsh actor Christian Bale as Jim. It was sung by James Rainbird. See more »

Goofs

Jim could not have witnessed the atomic bomb explosion in Japan with anything approaching the detail shown in the film. The distance from the Chinese mainland to Nagasaki, at its nearest point (roughly 475 miles), is further than the distance from the Trinity test site in New Mexico to Denver, Colorado (roughly 450 miles.) The distance from mainland China to Hiroshima is even further (roughly 640 miles.) Even allowing for no terrain obstacles, the curvature of the earth at such a distance precludes anything more than a brief dim glow on the horizon. 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 ...
See more »

Connections

References Citizen Kane (1941) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Survivng life when your world has been turned upside down.
6 January 2005 | by (Connecticut) – See all my reviews

I saw this movie 17 years ago as a ten year old in the theater and saw it again for the first time since then last night on a TV movie channel. I have to say I'm almost ashamed that I forgot what a great movie this was...what a great movie it still is. The film contains parts very competently played by the then relatively un-knowns John Malkovic, Joey "Pants" and Ben Stiller. The lead was played, and very well done at that, by a then young actor Christian Bales (sp?). The acting in this movie is fantastic and the story line is is as rich as any other of the best movies I've seen. Following the trials and tribulations of a child from an affluent family separated from his parents in China after the Japanese invasion. This movie will make you angry, it will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will frustrate the living daylights out of you and in the end you'll feel warm and fuzzy: but the hollow kind of warm and fuzzy that only comes after a very harrowing experience. If you don't like war movies don't worry!!! When you watch this film you'll see it's not as much of a war movie as it is a story of survival and the brutal realities of life when the world has been turned upside down. The movie really spoke to me partially b/c I was a young kid when I first saw it and the main character is also a young man. However, this movie also spoke to me on a much different, deeper level. Ever since I was child I was always fortunate/blessed enough to have my family along with everything I needed and most of what I wanted. This movie depicts what happens when all of those familiar things and creature comforts are taken away...it makes you ask yourself: What would I do in this situation? How would I react? A fantastic movie for almost all ages!!!


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Recent Posts
Was Bale blind in the end of the movie? KilliK
What does Sargent Nagata say to Jim just before he leaves the camp? jimmelnh
Anyone else have a problem with the A-bomb bit? fabrice4211
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Spielberg's Best Film? alj_Turin
Ben Stiller kberenson
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