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Empire of the Sun
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Manufacturer: Warner Home Video
Starring: Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers, Joe Pantoliano
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5

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Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Binding: DVD
Brand: Warner Brothers
EAN: 9780790761657
Format: Closed-captioned
ISBN: 0790761653
Label: Warner Home Video
Manufacturer: Warner Home Video
Number Of Items: 1
Publisher: Warner Home Video
Region Code: 1
Release Date: 2001-11-06
Running Time: 154
Studio: Warner Home Video
Theatrical Release Date: 1987

Empire of the Sun

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Editorial Reviews:

A young boys experiences after the army of imperial japan invades china following the december 1941 pearl harbor attack shape steven spielbergs spectacular inspiring and acclaimed tale about growing up in a time of war. Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 09/26/2006 Starring: Christian Bale Miranda Richardson Run time: 153 minutes Rating: Pg Director: Steven Spielberg

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Fantastic Movie
Comment: This is one of the best movies i ever seen. The history is terrific. the best is that it isn't a kind of Hollywood's movie. The actors are great and is very emotive.
In fact this is by far the best Steven Spielberg movie.
I do not recommend it for people who loves movies in Hollywood's styles. This is not for you.
Great Movie!!!! Fantastic!!!

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: The many highlights outweigh the films few problems...
Comment: For some reason there is a huge circle of film snobs (cinaphiles, movie buffs) who absolutely hate this film. I can understand to an extent, but not seeing the films central glistening facet is to ignore what is right in front of your eyes. Yes, even the vilest of movie critics; even someone who detests everything that is so Hollywood about Steven Spielberg will tell you that Christian Bale delivers quite possibly the finest child acting performance of all time.

That said; I don't hate this movie.

The film tells the story of young Jamie Graham, a twelve-year-old British boy living with his family in China. During World War II Jamie is separated from his family and finds himself in an interment camp struggling to survive in a world that was once so familiar but is now so strange. We watch Jamie (now known as Jim; new name for a new life) as he transforms from this privileged and pampered boy to this desperate young man. He never loses his adolescence though, and I think this is the biggest compliment that can be given young Bale (not so young now). He was able to capture the youth within his character, and, while making him mature he never lost it. Most young actor's today struggle with finding that balance between youth and maturity; to them I say `study this performance'.

So, there is much to love here, even aside from Bale's dynamic performance. There are some very strong supporting performances by the likes of John Malkovich and Joe Pantoliano, and there is a beautifully sincere and moving performance given by Miranda Richardson who was robbed of more screen time. Malkovich is very hit or miss for me, but here he lands a strong hit as the devious yet genuine Basie. He takes Jim under his wing, even if his intentions may be selfish, and cares for him in his time of need. Joe plays Frank, Basie's right hand man, and he demonstrates a believable mix of frustration and jealousy. Miranda is just luminous as Mrs. Victor, the young mother who cares for Jim while in the interment camp. She sadly only has a small amount of screen time, but she uses it to the full, delivering a very well rounded and complete performance, one that spans emotional terrain with effortless ease and comfort.

And then there is the gorgeous cinematography provided by Allen Daviau. His steady hand helps add so much depth to emotional impact provided by each frame.

I am one who is not a fan of John Williams score. It just seemed a little out of place to me, like it took away from the good points of the film. It was distracting and annoying and simply one of the films weaker moments; to me. Another hit-or-miss type facet to the film is the fact that it definitely feels very much like a Spielberg film. This can be a good thing, but it can also be a slightly awkward thing. Take for instance the scene where Jamie is separated from his parents in the large massive crowd of people. This scene draws to mind similar scenes from the `Indiana Jones' franchise, and while it doesn't `not fit', it isn't a perfect fit to the film. On the flip side there is a scene where Bale is attempting to place bird traps on the outskirts of the internment camp, and the guards are looking for him, and the scene draws to mind a certain `raptor kitchen scene' in `Jurassic Park' (yes, I know `Jurassic Park' was filmed afterward, but the comparison can still be drawn), and then tenseness of the scene is glorious.

I think where most movie fanatics find fault here is with the Ron Howard like sentimentality used, very reminiscent of Spielberg's approach to `The Color Purple'. While it worked beautifully in the later film, it seems to take away from the grit of a film of this nature. It makes the harshness of the films center feel a little too warm. I know that this is basically a `family film', but maybe that was a mistake. I like this film the way that it is, don't get me wrong, but a little more grit and little more edge would have elevated the film drastically.

That, and to be completely honest, the film is a tad too long.

So, with that said, I can recommend this film without hesitation. It really is enjoyable and it sports a brilliant performance by Bale (where is his Oscar?). The whole family will love this movie, but one cannot help but recognize where different decisions would have brought about more desirable results.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Remember, We're British
Comment: Empire of the Sun

Based on J.G. Ballard's autobiographical book of the same name, "Empire of the Sun" follows the life of a young British schoolboy caught in the Japanese invasion of Shanghai. The British tried to recreate England in their enclave, complete with Church of England services and elaborate costume parties. As the Japanese advance the British evacuate, mostly by sea to Hong Kong and Singapore. The boy, James Graham,(Christian Bale in a remarkable film debut) is separated from his parents and is befriended by a couple of scruffy American blackmarketers (John Malkovich and Joe Pantoliano). They are interned in a Japanese camp for the duration of the war, where once again they re-create a microcosm of England, complete with its own economy, bartering, and social hierarchy. "Remember, we're British" as the camp doctor tells Jim, who quickly learns how to survive in a prison camp through bartering, bullying, and theft.
Evacuation and imprisonment is also the theme of Roland Joffe's "The Killing Fields," based on New York Times journalist Sydney Schanberg's friendship with his Cambodian interpreter, Dith Pran during the Khmer Rouge takeover of Phnom Penh. (Sam Waterston plays Schanberg, and Dr. Haing S. Ngor is Dith Pran, winning a much deserved "Best Supporting Actor" for his first film role.)
Spielberg also dealt with imprisonment in "Schindler's List" and, in a way, with the loss of the familiar in "E.T." (?)
In both stories, the Western superpowers abandon their native servants and compatriots. Schanberg manages to get Pran's family out of Cambodia on the last flight, but loses Pran, who ends up in a Khmer Rouge "Re-education" camp as part of Pol Pot's twisted sense of socialism. Overcome with guilt, Schanberg spends years trying to find Dith Pran.
Both directors convey a great sense of place; "Empire" was the first movie filmed in Mainland China since the Revolution, and it carefully creates the mood of 1940's Shanghai. "The Killing Fields" was shot in Thailand, where many of the Cambodian refugees ended up. Both films carry political messages - among them that the comfort zone of the establishment is easily undone by its hubris.
I give both movies four and a half stars. (5 Being for Genius)
The Killing Fields

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Comment: I've been looking for this movie and its beautiful music for a long time and finally found it. I guess I just didn't look in the right places. I am now much wiser.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: An Interesting and Inspiring Bit of History
Comment: I first saw "Empire of the Sun" in the Lakes District in England with an Australian stranger named Alf. (I'm not making this up.) Though a literature major in college, this film made me realize how few in-depth, behind-the-scenes, real history lessons I learned in my regular high school and college classes. The film started me on a journey to learn more. I now teach Social Studies and English to high-schoolers and try to always make sure my students understand that history is people and people are stories.

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