7.8/10
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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
2,156 ( 332)
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:

El imperio del sol 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

In Rescue Dawn (2006), 19 years after this film, Christian Bale recounts an incident during World War II in which an American fighter plane on a strafing run flew closely past him with the canopy open, and the pilots looking straight at him, with his goggles up. See more »

Goofs

In the establishing shot of the film's final scene, set in the glass house, the top deck of a modern British double-decker bus is visible, moving along behind a wall, in the background at top right. 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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Connections

Referenced in Kicking and Screaming (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

SWING IS IN THE AIR
Performed by Jack Hylton
Written by Samuel Lerner (uncredited), Al Goodhart (uncredited) and Al Hoffman (uncredited)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

This movie was a visual, character driven movie of superior quality,
30 November 2001 | by thecohenSee all my reviews

This movie was a visual, character driven movie of superior quality, even for Steven Speilberg. Some say that Speilberg has too much the eye of a child, but I tend to disagree. Too many filmmakers today are producing slick, throw away action flicks that at first seem promising but eventually fall into predictable, fluff and special effects laden, thinly plotted, dialogue-poor, characterless movies that are gone before the popcorn. Yes, this film has a lot of great Special Effects (So did Schindler's List.) Moreover, a lot of great action to keep the story pace from dragging. The idea of a movie is for the actors and directors to show their stuff (Hopefully around some good writing.) This movie did it for me. I have to agree with all those who praised Christian Bale for his performance in this movie. He was brilliant. In addition, I got to see Ben Stiller in an unusual role for him. I thought that John Malcovitch acted perfectly for this film and yes he was a Han Solo/Indiana Jones character, but with even less depth. His role was pivotal only in so far as it affected the boy. We were not as concerned with his character in so much as his shadow was cast on Jim through out the movie. The war was bigger than this little boy was and it was exquisitely done. Steven Speilberg gives us wonder, mystery, action, adventure and history in everything he does. He's the consummate filmmaker.


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