Friday, November 6, 2009

Hidden Gems: Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun is a marvelous film about a young boy making the transition from adolescence to young adulthood, all against the backdrop of the Second World War.

The film is the story of Jim Graham (Christian Bale) and how he basically became a young man. It begins in the British controlled Shanghai shortly before the Japanese invasion in 1941. Here we see that Jim is the son of a rich British business man and that he is essentially your typical spoiled rich kid, who doesn't really care that much for anyone else.

Jim is fascinated with planes, each day Japanese fighter planes fly above the city, and while everyone else is scared to death, Jim is in awe at what he thinks is a beautiful sight. Soon though, the Japanese invade, thus shaking up Jim's life forever.

In the midst of one of the many emotional scenes in the film, Jim is separated by a crowd from his parents and becomes lost without anyone to help him find his way. The rest of the film is about Jim on a journey to survive in this dangerous Japanese territory while trying to find his parents.

All in all this is another amazing film from the great Steven Spielberg, definitely a superb artistic achievement for the director. The film-making is simply beautiful and breathtaking, and so is the amazing score by John Williams, who expertly blended choral music with a huge Hollywood orchestra to create something that is truly unique. One of the greatest things about this film though, is the acting.

The film has a superb cast including John Malkovich as a friend to Jim who later double crosses him, and Miranda Richardson, who acts as a sort of mother figure to Jim, but the true stunner in the cast is Christian Bale. This was Bale's first film, but you can't even tell, he delivers one of, if not, the greatest performance in the film. Bale is able to show both vulnerability and strength in this role and perfectly carries the film upon his back.

Overall, I am surprised this film didn't sweep the Oscars the year it came out, it's just superb. As I've mentioned it is a truly beautiful film including some truly breathtaking scenes, such as my favorite when Jim sees what he thinks is a heavenly light, but is really the Atom Bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

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