Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun Movie Poster

"To survive in a world at war, he must find a strength greater than all the events that surround him."  Starring a young Christian Bale as Jamie “Jim” Graham, Joe Pantoliano as Frank Demarest, and John Malkovich as Basie, Empire of the Sun was a Stephen Spielberg directed war drama released in 1987.  Although the film received mostly positive reviews, heavy hitters like Siskel and Ebert did not like it.  Although the film did turn a profit, it was not considered a smash hit.

In this movie, Bale plays the role of Jamie, a 12 year old rich British kid living in the Shanghai International Settlement in the late 1930’s, during a time of conflict between Japan and China.  As Japan encroaches and takes over the area, Jim gets separated from his parents as people attempt to flee.  Jim returns to his home in the settlement, having been told by his parents that they would come for him there.  Eventually, he runs out of food, and tries to surrender to the Japanese troops in order to get something to eat.

Eventually, Jamie gets help from an American soldier named Basie (Malkovich), and the two hatch a plan to take things from empty houses and fence them for money.  The two get caught and begin a life in a prison camp, where Jamie makes the best of it as a slick trader and deal maker, while Basie plots an escape.  By this time, WWII is in full swing, and the camp is attached by American fighters, and the prisoners escape to the wilderness, where many of them die from starvation.  Eventually, Jaime is picked up the Americans and took to an orphanage where his parents find him.