7.8/10
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320 user 58 critic

Empire of the Sun (1987)

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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
1,891 ( 303)
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

Steven Spielberg had planned a long, continuous shot with Jim standing on top of the building at the prison camp, watching the American planes bomb the airfields. The shot was very complicated and would require a single take. He gave instructions to Christian Bale to get excited, jump up and down, and run around on the rooftop as the planes passed and the bombs went off. However, Bale became nervous as the stunts began, and didn't do much of anything. Since most of the explosions had been used up on this shot, Spielberg (after some soft, fatherly words with the young Bale) improvised with several shots from different close-up angles, eventually getting Bale to give a more excited performance. See more »

Goofs

When the P51 strafe the camp in Jim is in, one P51 drops its two 500 pound bombs from no more than 30 feet above the deck. This would never be done as the blast from the bombs would destroy the aircraft. The plane would be at a much higher altitude. 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 Here's Looking at You, Warner Bros. (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

These Foolish Things
Lyrics by by Eric Maschwitz and music by Jack Strachey
Performed by Elizabeth Welch
Courtesy of EMI Records Limited
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A lot of lost potential
27 May 2004 | by jostaleySee all my reviews

I just saw this movie last night. It really ended up being quite disappointing despite a very good beginning. The scenes near the start of the film really do a good job of transmitting the ominous feeling of looming war. When the war broke out, I was feeling the kid's fear and confusion. I was thinking it was going to be a good war journey film, like the Pianist. Unlike the Pianist, this story just seemed to spread itself to thin. Throughout the movie the kid gives all sorts of philosophical ponderings, at one point he declares, "I have become an athiest." Statements such as these seem like they should have meaning, but I couldn't find it. It was like much of the dialog and actions of the characters was just put out there with no insight to what caused them to speak and act in such a way. It seemed as though this got worse through the film. By the the time the end came, it seemed as though each scene was meaningless and unconnected to the next. If the character's motivations and psychology were made more apparent through the dialog, this could have been an excellent movie. The film was technically good, but the lack of insight into the characters leaves only a meaningless bore.


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