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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:

Steven Spielberg

Writers:

Tom Stoppard (screenplay), J.G. Ballard (novel)
Reviews
Popularity
1,567 ( 287)
Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 13 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Christian Bale ... Jim
John Malkovich ... Basie
Miranda Richardson ... Mrs. Victor
Nigel Havers ... Dr. Rawlins
Joe Pantoliano ... Frank Demarest
Leslie Phillips ... Maxton
Masatô Ibu Masatô Ibu ... Sgt. Nagata
Emily Richard Emily Richard ... Mary Graham, Jim's mother
Rupert Frazer Rupert Frazer ... John Graham, Jim's father
Peter Gale Peter Gale ... Mr. Victor
Takatarô Kataoka Takatarô Kataoka ... Kamikaze Boy Pilot (as Takatoro Kataoka)
Ben Stiller ... Dainty
David Neidorf ... Tiptree
Ralph Seymour ... Cohen
Robert Stephens ... 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

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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA

Release Date:

25 December 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Empire of the Sun See more »

Filming Locations:

UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,314,509, 13 December 1987, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$22,238,696

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$66,700,000, 31 December 1987
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mark Rylance was offered a part, but took a stage role instead. He would work with Steven Spielberg over 25 years later, in Bridge of Spies (2015). See more »

Goofs

When the P-51D pilot waves at Jim, just before the close-up of the pilot, a white Range Rover is parked on the airfield as the Mustang passes. 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

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Acting Debuts in Movies (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

A NIGHTINGALE SANG IN BERKELEY SQUARE
Lyrics by Eric Maschwitz and music by Manning Sherwin
Performed by Elizabeth Welch
Courtesy of EMI Records Limited
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Survivng life when your world has been turned upside down.
6 January 2005 | by gbavedas77See 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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