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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
2,062 ( 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

The boy's name, Jim Graham, is taken from author J.G. Ballard's given name, James Graham Ballard. See more »

Goofs

Jim uses CPR on the dying woman. CPR was developed in 1960. 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 The Goldbergs: Adam Spielberg (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

SWING IS IN THE AIR
Performed by Jack Hylton
Written by Samuel Lerner (uncredited), Al Goodhart (uncredited) and Al Hoffman (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Extraordinary film
19 August 2001 | by artzauSee all my reviews

Reading through the reviews, there were a lot of people who didn't understand this film. This is Spielberg's venture into the realm of art in cinematography. This film is a visual masterpiece and you are swept along from beginning to end. Yes, the tale gets a bit loose in spots and you never know what's going to happen next. But, if you're willing to give up warm and fuzzy for lush visual images and startling leaps of character, you'll see what Spielberg's trying to accomplish. This film makes use of the talents of Miranda Richardson and gives some early exposure to the likes of John Malkovich and Ben Stiller, but young Christian Bale steals the show. The reviewer that commented on the "gothic" effect of the Tai-Pan's going to the costume ball being driven through Shanghai was right on. This film is rife with such scenes and does not disappoint. It's wholly misleading to look for some kind of action story underlying this film. The tale, taken from the book, is straightforward enough: a young boy's boost into manhood through the second world war. The film is full of memorable moments and visually very, very pleasing. As art, it is excellent. That's likely why it wasn't a blockbuster, as say, e.g., Poltergeist, Close Encounters and the Jurassic Park films, were. But, hey. That's the cost of creating art as opposed to crap. And, crap does draw a lot of flies...


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