Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun

Steven Spielberg (1987)

U Certificate


Our Score
Now considered a trial run for the more moving, horrifying and involving Schindler's List, Steven Spielberg's drama, set in China during the Second World War, is a glossy and rather tame affair, based on JG Ballard's semi-autobiographical novel. Christian Bale plays 11-year-old Jim, who is separated from his family in Shanghai and ends up in a Japanese internment camp. As you'd expect from Spielberg, the film has its fair share of heroic moments and scenes that depict the horror of war through the eyes of a child. But, despite the presence of such talents as John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson and stiff-upper-lip Brit Nigel Havers, this seems a rather superficial look at life under occupation.


An English boy living in Shanghai is separated from his parents during the Japanese invasion and forced to live on the streets. The youngster is befriended by an American sailor, who helps the boy adapt to life without his family, before the pair are eventually captured and subjected to the terrors of internment. Steven Spielberg's Second World War drama based on JG Ballard's semi-autobiographical novel, starring Christian Bale, John Malkovich and Nigel Havers.

Cast & Crew

Jim Graham Christian Bale
Basie John Malkovich
Mrs Victor Miranda Richardson
Dr Rawlins Nigel Havers
Frank Demerest Joe Pantoliano
Maxton Leslie Phillips
Sergeant Nagata Masato Ibu
Jim's mother Emily Richard
Jim's father Rupert Frazer
Mr Victor Peter Gale
Mr Lockwood Robert Stephens
Mr Chen Burt Kwouk
Lt Price Paul McGann
Dainty Ben Stiller
Director Steven Spielberg
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: P.D.C. LtdGuidance: Contains some violence and swearing. Available on: video and DVD