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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)
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Popularity
2,062 ( 168)
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 ... 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

Gross USA:

$22,238,696

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$22,238,696
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

It was David Lean who first suggested Nigel Havers for the role of Dr. Rawlins. See more »

Goofs

Although B-29s bombed a supply depot at Hankow, China in December 1944, most targets were located in Japan. The valuable planes would not have been used on a small Chinese airfield and certainly not at low level. The B-29s bombed from high altitude until General LeMay ordered low-altitude incendiary bombing of Japan in March 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 ...
See more »

Connections

References Gone with the Wind (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

SOUTH OF THE BORDER
Written by Jimmy Kennedy and Michael Carr
Performed by Al Bowlly / Mayfair Orchestra / Ronnie Munro
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

From a Japanese girl
3 November 1998 | by Angel326See all my reviews

This is the first time I commented on a film. I saw this yesterday night for the first time. And I just cried.

I cried for Jim. I cried for the pain our country caused in the innocent civilians. (Japan can be so stupid!) I cried for the pilots of the Zero-sen.

I've read and seen lots of movies of these pilots. They're called tokoutai in Japanese. They get on their planes knowing they will die. It's a suicide mission, and they were very proud of it. I know if you're on the winning side you may not sympathize these pilots, but they were just fighting for their country. In those days, the emperor was everything. They taught you to die for the emperor at school when you were only in 1st grade.

But I don't know the war. I've never experienced it. I can't understand the concept of dying for your emperor. So I sympathise with Jim. Jim is a symbol. A symbol of innocence, of the horrors of war. His singing proves that too. He's also the ray of light for these prisoners. His energy and vitality are important aspects. It brings out some human characteristics in the sergent as well.

Christian Bale was remarkable. He should be commemorated or something for this performance, cause it was just brilliant. So was John Malcovich.

Overall it was great. One of the best movies I ever saw. It made me think, a lot. About war, about Japan, about history, and about humans in general.


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