7.7/10
112,761
346 user 63 critic

Empire of the Sun (1987)

Trailer
1:39 | Trailer
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
1,742 ( 272)
Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 13 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

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
Learn more

More Like This 

Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A black Southern woman struggles to find her identity after suffering abuse from her father and others over four decades.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey
Munich (2005)
Action | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Based on the true story of the Black September aftermath, about the five men chosen to eliminate the ones responsible for that fateful day.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Marie-Josée Croze
Amistad (1997)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States when the ship is captured off the coast of Long Island. The courts must decide whether the Mende are slaves or legally free.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey, Anthony Hopkins
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Roy Neary, an electric lineman, watches how his quiet and ordinary daily life turns upside down after a close encounter with a UFO.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A highly advanced robotic boy longs to become "real" so that he can regain the love of his human mother.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor
Always (1989)
Drama | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The spirit of a recently deceased expert pilot mentors a newer pilot while watching him fall in love with the girlfriend that he left behind.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, Brad Johnson
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A woman attempts to reunite her family by helping her husband escape prison and together kidnapping their son. But things don't go as planned when they are forced to take a police hostage on the road.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Goldie Hawn, Ben Johnson, Michael Sacks
War Horse (2011)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Young Albert enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry. Albert's hopeful journey takes him out of England and to the front lines as the war rages on.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis
Lincoln (2012)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

As the American Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn
Duel (TV Movie 1971)
Action | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A business commuter is pursued and terrorized by the malevolent driver of a massive tractor-trailer.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott, Eddie Firestone
1941 (1979)
Action | Comedy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Hysterical Californians prepare for a Japanese invasion in the days after Pearl Harbor.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Treat Williams
Adventure | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

As Earth is invaded by alien tripod fighting machines, one family fights for survival in this sci-fi action film.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins
Edit

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:

Action | Drama | History | War

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film received six Oscar nominations, but lost all of them to The Last Emperor (1987). 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

Referenced in Kicking and Screaming (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Swing is in the Air
Performed by Jack Hylton
Written by Samuel Lerner, Al Goodhart and Al Hoffman (all uncredited)
See more »

User Reviews

 
Extraordinary performance from Christian Bale
31 May 2004 | by wisewebwomanSee all my reviews

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.


123 of 151 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 346 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

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 »

Edit

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:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.



Recently Viewed