Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun was released in 1987 as a war film. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by J.G. Ballard. The movie starred a very young Christian Bale and John Malkovich, and a then not so well known Ben Stiller. Famous film creator Steven Spielberg was responsible for directing the movie. Empire of the Sun did not do well at the box office, earning $22 million. Being a production aimed at a niche market may explain this. But otherwise critically, the film was very well received.

The Movie

During World War 2, Jamie Graham (Biel), a choir boy, lives with his parents in an international settlement in Shanghai. In the wake of the Pearl Harbour attacks, the Japanese invade the city. In the ensuing chaos, Jamie is separated from his parents and ends up in a P.O.W. camp with other English and Americans. Situated next door is a Japanese Army airfield.

One evening Jamie slips into the airfield to inspect the Japanese aircraft, and it is here that one of two intense moments in the film occurred. By 1945 the Japanese airfield comes under intense attack by the American airforce. On one such day, a squadron of P51 Mustangs strafes the airfield, with Jamie yelling the famous words “Cadillac of the sky!“.

The camp and airfield are eventually abandoned by the Japanese, and together with all the survivors, Jamie goes on a long walk to find help. Eventually, the survivors are housed in a refugee camp, with Jamie being taken up with other orphans of the war. It is here that he is reunited with his parents.

The movie trailer