Empire of the Sun

Watch Empire of the Sun

"To survive in a world at war, he must find a strength greater than all the events that surround him."
  • PG
  • 1987
  • 2 hr 34 min
  • 7.7  (133,350)
  • 62

Empire of the Sun is a 1987 coming-of-age war drama film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on J.G. Ballard's semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. The movie features an all-star cast including Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers, Joe Pantoliano, Ben Stiller, and Leslie Phillips. Empire of the Sun depicts the lives of a young British boy, Jim Graham (Christian Bale), his family, and his experiences during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai, China, during World War II.

The story is set in 1941, during the early days of the Pacific War. The movie opens as we are introduced to Jim, a privileged British schoolboy living in Shanghai. Jim's life is soon turned upside down when the Japanese invade China, and he is separated from his parents. He is left to fend for himself on the streets of the city, struggling to survive and find his way back to his family.

As the war rages on, Jim's life becomes increasingly bleak. He is taken as a prisoner of war by the Japanese army, and spends several years in Japanese internment camps. Despite his young age, Jim is forced to grow up fast and learn how to survive in a harsh and unforgiving environment where death is always just around the corner.

Despite his circumstances, Jim maintains an unshakable sense of hope and determination. He finds solace in his vivid imagination, and his dreams of flying high above the war-torn landscape. However, his circumstances also push him into dark and dangerous situations as he struggles to survive.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the movie is Jim's relationship with Basie (John Malkovich), an American POW who befriends him early in his internment. Basie takes Jim under his wing, teaching him how to barter for goods, and how to steal whatever he needs to keep himself and his fellow prisoners alive. Though Basie's intentions are not always entirely benevolent, Jim is grateful for his guidance and friendship.

Throughout the movie, we also see the harsh realities of life in a Japanese internment camp. Food is scarce, disease is rampant, and death is a constant threat. The film portrays the relentless hardships that Jim and his fellow prisoners face with unflinching realism, but it also shows us the power of the human spirit to endure even the most challenging circumstances.

The movie is anchored by an incredible performance from Christian Bale. His portrayal of Jim is nuanced and layered, showing us a young boy who is simultaneously naive and wise beyond his years. Bale captures Jim's sense of wonder and fear, his vulnerability and resilience, and his ability to find hope even in the darkest of times. The supporting cast is also excellent, with John Malkovich bringing a devil-may-care attitude to the role of the streetwise Basie, and Miranda Richardson delivering a heart-wrenching performance as Jim's mother.

The film's cinematography is nothing short of stunning, capturing both the beauty and the horror of the world the characters inhabit. The score, composed by John Williams, is also outstanding, conveying both the sadness and the hopefulness that pervades the movie.

Overall, Empire of the Sun is a powerful and affecting movie that brings to life the struggles and triumphs of a young boy caught in the middle of war. The movie is a coming-of-age story, a war drama, and a glimpse into a world that few of us can even imagine. If you haven't seen it already, it is certainly worth watching.

Empire of the Sun is a 1987 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 34 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.7 and a MetaScore of 62.

Empire of the Sun
Where to Watch Empire of the Sun
Empire of the Sun is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Empire of the Sun for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 34 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.7  (133,350)
  • Metascore