Quick Review: Empire of the Sun (1987, Steven Spielberg)

mp2RATING: 9/10

Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Niger Havers, Joe Pantoliano
Screenplay: Tom Stoppard (Based on the novel by J.G. Ballard)

Synopsis: Jim Graham (Christian Bale), a little English boy living in World War II China must now survive on his own when he unexpectedly gets separated from his parents during the Japanese occupation.

Quick Thoughts:

1. I know that the film is well received, but I could say that “Empire of the Sun” is one of Steven Spielberg’s under appreciated film.  His film is a simple story that people may look as too complex, but when you look at it closer, it really just is a coming of age tale. Some people could look at it as a long war time epic, but truly it focus’ on Christian Bale’s character. Spielberg’s usual themes are in the film, but it has a little bit more. It’s still cinematic but there’s still emotional in terms of human behaviour. It’s a human nature piece but there’s still some ultimate movie magic in it. Spielberg directs his actors really so well.

2. Christian Bale’s in a role that is perfected suited for him. His performance is inspiring me for my new feature on the best child star performances. Even though this is Bale’s first big screen role (at least the one that he’s been noticed for) it seemed like the actor is so seasoned, in such a young age too, that it’s hard to resist his performance. As a kid, Bale is so natural and so convincing that if you saw this movie in the 80s, you wouldn’t be surprised that the guy’s an Oscar winer today. I’d love to see him work with Spielberg this age.

3. John Malkovich and Miranda Richardson give strong supporting performances. Richardson was subtle but impressive. Malkovich was unexpected and fun to watch. Like always.

4. The art direction and costume design is great. But what truly makes “Empire of the Sun” what it is, is the stunning cinematography. Alan Daviau shoots the film with a lot of vast shots and close ups together, and I’d say it’s one of the best shot films of the 80s. It looks epic to look at but also so intimate. John Williams rights one of my personal favourite scores from his Spielberg collaborations.

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