Empire of the Sun by Steven Spielberg |Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson | 883929091539 | DVD | Barnes & Noble
Empire of the Sun
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Empire of the Sun

4.8 21
Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson


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Based on J.G. Ballard's autobiographical novel, Empire of the Sun stars Christian Bale as a spoiled young British boy, living with his wealthy family in pre-World War II Shanghai. During the Japanese invasion, Bale is separated from his parents. With the help of soldier-of-fortune John Malkovich, Bale learns to survive without a retinue of servants at his beck


Based on J.G. Ballard's autobiographical novel, Empire of the Sun stars Christian Bale as a spoiled young British boy, living with his wealthy family in pre-World War II Shanghai. During the Japanese invasion, Bale is separated from his parents. With the help of soldier-of-fortune John Malkovich, Bale learns to survive without a retinue of servants at his beck and call. By the time Malkovich and Bale are tossed into a Japanese prison camp, the boy has picked up enough street-smarts and developed enough intestinal fortitude to regard his imprisonment as an exciting adventure. The story ends during the 1945 liberation: on the verge of manhood, the 13-year-old Bale will never again be the pampered, privileged brat whom we met in the early scenes.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Matthew Johnson
Empire of the Sun, Steven Spielberg's beautiful tale of World War II victims, was at best faintly praised as another Spielbergian tale of childhood adventure. But this earlier work by the director of Schindler's List emerges on reexamination as a celebration of enduring innocence and imagination in the face of the horrendous desperation and brutal reality of war. Like a deceptively simple symphony, its joys are revealed in repeat experiences, the subtleties that lie beneath the wide-eyed set pieces that often define Spielberg's work. Jim (Christian Bale) is the privileged child of wealthy British merchants in Shanghai in the years before World War II. He idolizes the pilots and aircraft of the war between Japan and China and dreams of soaring through the clouds, blissfully ignorant of the danger so close to his home. But when the Japanese army storms the port city, Jim is separated from his parents and faced with the bleak reality of life alone in a war zone. Falling in with an American scrounger named Basie (John Malkovich), Jim braves the hostile streets of Shanghai before being captured and dragged to the forbidding prison camps of the Japanese army. Jim's struggle to find his parents becomes secondary to the need to save himself and those around him. Adapted for the screen by Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love) from J. G. Ballard's autobiographical novel, Empire of the Sun is not only one of Spielberg's most soulful movies, but also among his best.
All Movie Guide
Those looking for the source of the full-fledged artist behind Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan need look no further than this relatively forgotten Spielberg effort from 1987. Brilliantly utilizing the kids'-eye-view approach honed in E.T. to decidedly different effect, Spielberg captures the terrors and thrills of a wartime childhood separated from every element that had previously allowed life to make sense. A young Christian Bale gives a deeply impressive performance, nicely holding his own against an equally memorable John Malkovich, but it's the tone of the film -- a sense of dreadful wonder in the midst of extreme circumstances, and a detachment that makes Bale's environment seem as alien to viewers as it does to his character -- that makes the most lasting impression. Though not seen as such at the time, this is a major step forward for Spielberg that is well worth rediscovery.
Washington Post
There isn't a moment in the film that is blandly or routinely directed. And in some of the movie's big set pieces, especially his staging of an American attack on a Japanese airfield, you feel his technical mastery in every frame, and the sheer raw energy he packs into his compositions can make you feel breathless, intoxicated by motion and speed. Hal Hinson

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Behind-the-scenes documentary The China Odyssey: Empire of the Sun, a film by Steve Spielberg; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Christian Bale Jim Graham
John Malkovich Basie
Miranda Richardson Mrs. Victor
Nigel Havers Dr. Rawlins
Joe Pantoliano Frank Demerest
Leslie Phillips Maxton
Masato Ibu Sgt. Nagata
Emily Richard Jim's Mother
Rupert Frazer Jim's Father
Peter Gale Mr. Victor
Takatoro Kataoka Kamikaze Boy Pilot
Ben Stiller Dainty
David Neidorf Tiptree
Ralph Seymour Cohen
Robert Stephens Mr. Lockwood
Hiro Arai Japanese Sergeant/Airfield
J.G. Ballard Guest at Costume Party
Maggie Cartier Actor
Jane Feinberg Actor
Mike Fenton Actor
Kong Guo-Jun Chinese Sergeant/Airfield
Yuriko Matsubara Actor
Paul McGann Lieutenant Price
Ann Queensbury Mrs. Pym
Shi Rui Qing Shopkeeper
Judy Taylor Actor
Zhai nai She Yang
Ge Yan Zhao Merchant
Guts Ishimatsu Sgt. Uchida
Emma Piper Amy Matthews
James Walker Mr. Radik
Jack Dearlove Singing Prisoner
Anna Turner Mrs. Gilmour
Ann Castle Mrs. Phillips
Yvonne Gilan Mrs. Lockwood
Ralph Michael Mr. Partridge
Sybil Maas Mrs. Hug
Eric Flynn British Prisoner
James Greene British Prisoner
Simon Harrison British Prisoner
Barrie Houghton British Prisoner
Paula Hamilton British Prisoner
Peter Copley British Prisoner
Barbara Bolton British Prisoner
Francesca Longrigg British Prisoner
Keiron Jecchinis American Prisoner
Gary Parker American Prisoner
Ray Charleson American Prisoner
Burt Kwouk Mr. Chen
Tom Danaher Col. Marshall
Marc de Jonge Frenchman
Susan Leong Amah
Nicholas Dastor Paul
Edith Platten Paul's Sister
Shirley Chantrell Chinese Cook At Detention Center
John Moore Mr. Pym
Sylvia Marriott Mrs. Partridge
Frank Duncan Mrs. Hug's Father
Ronald Eng Mr. Chen's Wife
Za Chuan Ce Shopkeeper
Lu Ye Merchant
Guo Xue Liang Merchant

Technical Credits
Steven Spielberg Director,Producer
Vic Armstrong Stunts
Charles Bishop Art Director
Gavin Bocquet Production Designer
John Boyde Sound/Sound Designer
Michael Carr Songwriter
Rick Carter Production Designer
Maggie Cartier Casting
Colin Charles Sound/Sound Designer
Harry Cordwell Set Decoration/Design
Allen Daviau Cinematographer
Tony Dawe Sound/Sound Designer
Norman Dorme Art Director
Paul Engelen Makeup
Jane Feinberg Casting
Mike Fenton Casting
Michael Ford Set Decoration/Design
Maurice Fowler Art Director
Ye Mao Gen Special Effects
Huang Qia Gui Art Director
Fred Hole Art Director
Industrial Light & Magic Special Effects
Michael Kahn Editor
Kathleen Kennedy Producer
Chris Kenny Associate Producer
Harry Link Songwriter
Frank Marshall Producer
Yuriko Matsubara Casting
Menno Meyjes Screenwriter
Dennis Muren Special Effects
Michael Pangrazio Special Effects
Antonio Parra Special Effects
Norman Reynolds Production Designer
Bob Ringwood Costumes/Costume Designer
Michael Roberts Camera Operator
Robert Shapiro Executive Producer
Manning Sherwin Songwriter
Tom Stoppard Screenwriter
Jack Strachey Songwriter
Judy Taylor Casting
David Tomblin Asst. Director
David Watkin Special Effects
Kit West Special Effects,Special Effects Supervisor
John Williams [composer] Score Composer

Scene Index

Disc #1, Side A -- Empire of the Sun
1. Foreword [1:12]
2. The Choirboy [3:05]
3. Luckier [3:24]
4. Upward Dreams [1:38]
5. Partygoer Procession [3:56]
6. Hospitality [2:12]
7. Engaging the Enemy [5:13]
8. Shanghai: December 8, 1941 [2:48]
9. Lost in the Crowd [4:27]
10. Plunderers [4:12]
11. Home Alone [4:25]
12. English Boy Surrenders [5:04]
13. Making Frank's... [2:03]
14. Shanghai Jim [5:10]
15. Journey to Opulence [3:22]
16. New Occupants [1:55]
17. Chow Time [6:44]
18. The Truck to Soochow [4:34]
19. One With the Planes [2:42]
20. Kindred Spirits [1:34]
21. Tricks of the Trade [3:48]
22. The Antidote [:26]
23. New Word Pragmatist [2:09]
24. The University of Life [3:59]
25. Night Bombing [3:56]
26. Reprisal [2:39]
27. Setting the Traps [3:22]
28. In America Now [6:45]
29. Nagata's Revenge on... [2:18]
30. Lords of the Yangtze [3:34]
31. Basie Returns [4:12]
32. Kamikaze Dawn [1:39]
33. Bombs and Rapture [3:30]
34. Return to the British Dorm [5:01]
35. Broken Promise [1:45]
36. Failed Mission [2:18]
37. March to Nantao [1:46]
38. The Olympic Stadium [1:46]
39. "Pretend You're Dead" [2:15]
40. Heavenly Light [1:55]
41. Reunions [2:59]
42. "I Can Bring Everyone..." [4:10]
43. "I Surrender" [3:47]
44. Tired Eyes [2:00]
45. End Credits [4:06]
Disc #1, Side B -- Empire of the Sun / Special Features
1. Introduction [2:40]
2. International Settlement [2:45]
3. Christian Bale [2:23]
4. Shanghai Occupied [4:16]
5. Cruelties of War [3:31]
6. A Western City [5:14]
7. Jumping Back 50 Years [2:38]
8. Ballard's Memories [3:35]
9. Almost Like a Movie [2:25]
10. Planestruck [6:51]
11. Coming of Age [4:57]
12. Rapture Sequence [4:38]
13. Biggest Adjustment [2:39]
14. End Credits [:30]


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