7.8/10
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303 user 54 critic

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
2,020 ( 486)
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

Tom Stoppard's script was originally written for director Harold Becker. 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 ...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Alien Autopsy: (Fact or Fiction?) (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

 
Extraordinary performance from Christian Bale

I had put off watching this until recently, I do not know why, I had not read reviews and for some reason imagined it to be a movie about a young Japanese prince(!!).

I was captivated by the performance of Christian Bale as a privileged young boy named Jim Graham, growing up in Shanghai, very far removed from the poverty and despair all around him. When war breaks out, this changes him forever and hence the story.

After some harrowing experiences he winds up in a prisoner of war camp where he befriends some interesting characters and quickly adapts to a life of conniving and subterfuge to survive.

The transformation of Jim is beautifully captured, Steven Spielberg is a gifted director of child actors and gets a maximum performance always.

I was enthralled from beginning to end, young Jim was forever changed by his experiences and this change is portrayed starkly here when he is finally reunited with his parents.

8 out of 10 for equally impressive performances from John Malkovich and Miranda Richardson, but Christian Bale's performance deserved an Oscar.


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