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Empire of the Sun (1987) Poster

Goofs

Anachronisms 

In the chaotic street scene where Jim is chased by an older ruffian, they pass a posted bill advertising the movie Gone with the Wind. While the movie did premiere in 1939, that particular and most famous poster did not appear until 1967, during its re-release.

Anachronisms 

In the establishing shot of the film's final scene, set in the glasshouse, the top deck of a modern British double-decker bus can be seen moving along behind a wall in the background at top right.
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The model airplanes that Jim set on fire are plastic models by AURORA. These models were not released until 1957, some 16 years after the story takes place.
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The British ship in the harbor that Jim signals is a class of destroyer that were launched in the mid 1950s, some 14 years after the film takes place.
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Jim begins the film at the age of 13 or 14, meaning that when World War II ends he would be at least 17 or 18 years old. Actor Christian Bale (who was 12 when the film was produced) barely appears to age and is still a small boy in 1945.
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In one scene in the American barracks in the POW camp, one prisoner is heard playing the tune "I Left My Love" on the harmonica. The tune is from the 1959 film The Horse Soldiers and was composed specifically for that film by songwriter Stan Jones, who also had a cameo in it.
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Jim uses CPR on the dying woman. CPR was not developed until 1960.
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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).
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In the Shanghai street battle scene, some business signs contained names Romanized with Pinyin instead of the Wade-Giles or traditional systems that would have been used at the time.
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Continuity 

When Jim first comes into the cabin of the derelict freighter to meet Bassy, the fried rice which Bassy is stirring contains something which looks like meat. Later shots of the pan and then the served meal show rice only.
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In an early scene where Jamie's mother is sitting on the foot of his bed, she lights a cigarette. When she stands to exit the room, the cigarette has disappeared.
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When Jim is being driven through the city at the beginning and sees the beggar, his window is up on the shots from outside the car. Shots inside the car show his window halfway down.
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As Jamie races after the truck filled with British citizens, the little boy standing in the back of the truck stares at him with his mouth alternately opened or closed, depending on whether the shot is from further away or close up.
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When the truck leaves the hangar for the Suchow Internment camp, it does not have a frame for the rear covering. When they arrive at Suchow, the frame is clearly present.
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A girl in the background puts on her dress twice as Basie and Jim walk through the holding camp.
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When Jim steals the cork from the bottle during his Latin lesson, he sets the bottle to his right. When he leaves, after snatching his lesson book from the doctor, the bottle is to the far left of the table.
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Jim is reading "Wings" a comic first published in September 1940. Shanghai fell in 1937 and Jim was reading the comic before the fall of Shanghai and before the comic was first published.
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Crew or equipment visible 

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.
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Factual errors 

At the beginning, when Jim encounters the Japanese soldiers in the city as they are gathered for a meal, they are eating dumplings family-style as a group and using long, blunt-ended chopsticks. This would be very unusual for Japanese soldiers and would be more characteristic of Chinese soldiers. Japanese do not normally eat this way and their chopsticks would be pointed. If there is a common bowl of food, Japanese would turn their chopsticks around to transfer the food to their own bowl and then eat it with the narrow end only.
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.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

When Jamie first approaches the crashed Zero at the costume party the rudder on the tail is straight. When his model plane disappears over the hill and he gets out and goes after it, the rudder on the Zero is all the way to the left. However in between these two shot's he's shown sitting in the wrecked aircraft playing with the controls, it's likely he's pressed the rudder pedals.
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Revealing mistakes 

During the very last shot of Jim's suitcase floating in the river, a rope can be seen tied to the top right corner of the case, leading off the right side of the screen, keeping the suitcase from drifting out of the shot.
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In the POW camp, when Basie stands at the dead woman's stretcher and tells her children "She's with God now", the woman can be seen blinking behind the veil.
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Early in the movie, when the mother pats the kids arm putting him to sleep, a junction in two different takes is visible by the way the boy's arm moves.
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Early in the movie when Jamie is in bed, his mother is tucking him in and his father is standing over watching them both, holding a newspaper in his hand. Just before the scene ends, there is a brief cut showing where two scenes were poorly edited together (most noticeable when the father and his newspaper jump to the right).
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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