02 March 2012

Movies: Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun (1987) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092965/

WWII Period Drama

A coming of age tale about a privileged British lad, Jim Graham, living in 1937 Shanghai at the time the Japanese finally take over the city. During the rush to escape the advancing forces Jim is separated from his parents. He returns to their abandoned home and waits for them to come get him, surviving off the canned goods left behind. Once those supplies run out he makes his way on to the streets. Eventually he is captured and sent to a Japanese internment camp, where he continues to struggle to make his place and survive, as well as struggle with his conflicting admiration of the Japanese despite their being the enemy.

This is a Spielberg-directed film. The locations, cinematography and effects are stunning. The story is based on a fictionalized semi-biographical account written by J.G. Ballard.

A then-12-years old Christian Bale plays Jim Graham. We also get some great performances from folks like John Malkovich, Joe Pantoliano and a few other recognizable faces. Even Ben Stiller has a bit part and said he was inspired to write "Tropic Thunder" while making this film.

I was reminded of this film while I was watching "Winter in Wartime" because of the similar coming-of-age theme played out in WWII and figured it was about time to watch it again. "Empire" does cover a much longer span of time for its young protagonist than "Winter" does.

I realize it's an older film, but it's a beautiful film that hasn't aged and is worth seeing once.

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