"Empire Of The Sun" Is Released

Empire of the Sun is a 1987 coming of age war film based on J. G. Ballard's semi-autobiographical novel of the same name.

Steven Spielberg directed the film, which stars Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson and Nigel Havers. Empire of the Sun tells the story of Jamie "Jim" Graham, a young boy who goes from living in a wealthy British family in Shanghai, to becoming a prisoner of war in Lunghua Civilian Assembly Center, a Japanese internment camp, during World War II.

Harold Becker and David Lean were originally to direct before Spielberg came on board. Spielberg was attracted to directing Empire of the Sun because of a personal connection to Lean's films and World War II topics. He considers Empire of the Sun to be his most profound work on "the loss of innocence". While Ballard's novel had heroism as a theme, Spielberg once again created a film that dealt with children being separated from their parents. However, although the film was critically acclaimed, it was not a box office success.

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. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide