- Actors: Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers, Joe Pantoliano
- Directors: Steven Spielberg
- Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
- Language: English, Japanese
- Rated: Parental Guidance SuggestedPG
- Number of tapes: 1
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- VHS Release Date: July 7, 1994
- Run Time: 153 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 616 customer reviews
- ASIN: 630105573X
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #295,169 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
Empire of the Sun VHS
Original cardboard sleeve shows hardly any wear. From a private collection.
Roundly dismissed as one of Steven Spielberg's least successful efforts, this very underrated film poignantly follows the World War II adventures of young Jim (a brilliant Christian Bale), caught in the throes of the fall of China. What if you once had everything and lost it all in an afternoon? What if you were only 12? Bale's transformation, from pampered British ruling-class child to an imprisoned, desperate, nearly feral boy, is nothing short of stunning. Also stunning are exceptional sets, cinematography, and music (the last courtesy of John Williams) that enhance author J.G. Ballard's and screenwriter Tom Stoppard's depiction of another, less familiar casualty of war.
In a time when competitors were releasing "comedic," derivative coming-of-age films, Empire of the Sun stands out as an epic in the classic David Lean sense--despite confusion or perceived competition with the equally excellent The Last Emperor (also released in 1987, and also a coming-of-age in a similar setting). It is also a remarkable testament to, yes, the human spirit. And despite its disappointing box-office returns, Empire of the Sun helped to further establish Spielberg as more than a commercial director and set the standard, tone, and look for future efforts Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan. --N.F. Mendoza
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When I came home from Nam I was so changed that I could not speak to anyone, I would just stare. Took some time to get back to normal.
Christian Bale breaks your heart playing Jamie - a little airplane-loving boy whose privileged life is turned upside down when WWII comes to Shanghai. After being separated from his parents during their escape, he struggles to make sense of his new surroundings in a city of chaos, suspicion, and poverty. It was clear that he would be a star about 10 minutes into the movie. He was heartbreaking and funny and hopeful and sweet.
John Malkovich plays the kindly/evil sociopath with perfection - his use of "James" to gain what he wants gets them both through some tough scrapes. He's a guy you'd want with you because he has the most base survival instinct of an animal; but you'd always have one eye open. Is a little boy savvy enough to recognize the danger? The way their relationship plays out is fascinating.
This movie was amazing and the story is so compelling that as soon as the movie ended I bought the book. I was surprised to learn that the story is basically true - it's a compilation of what the author saw and experienced as a prisoner during the war.
I'm going to purchase the movie & watch it whenever I think my life is tough.