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Empire of the Sun (Bilingual) [Blu-ray Book]

Blu-ray
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 26.99
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Empire of the Sun (Bilingual) [Blu-ray Book] + Lawrence of Arabia (Restored Version) / Lawrence d'Arabie (Bilingual [Blu-ray]
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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



Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coming of age for a young boy and Spielberg March 22 2002
Format:DVD
Made back in 1987, EMPIRE OF THE SUN, is based upon the best selling book by J.G. Ballard. It tells the story of Jim, (Christian Bale) a young British boy, who is separated from his parents, during World War II. His family is living in Japan at the time. The young boy is thrown into a Japanese internment camp. As the story unfolds, Jim befriends 2 Americans (John Malkovich and Joe Pantiliano) also trying to stay one step ahead of their captors and fight for freedom. As it says on the back of the DVD "Through [Jim's] eyes we see the facination and horror of war." Jim goes from being a child of innocence to an adult who is just trying to stay alive in a harsh world.
When the film ended, I had forgotton how flawless the movie is. This was not only a young boy's coming of age story, but a coming of age for Spielberg as a Director as well. This was his 1st film (up to that point) without a real "Gee Whiz" element to it The performance by Bale is outstanding. As the viewer, you really get a sense of what it must have been like to be held captive in that prison. The scene where Jim runs back to the comforts of his home, shortly after being separated from his Mom and Dad, only to find it ransacked, and his parents gone, is particularly effective. The scene is both horrible and funny at the same time The film also boasts some fine production design and a good film score by John Williams. The film was the first to be shot in the People's Republic of China and eagled-eyed viewers will note a supporting role from funny man Ben Stiller.
The only extra feature of note on the DVD is, a good 45 minute documentary, made at the time of production. The documentary is narrated by Actor Martin Sheen. When this movie was released, I remember the reviews being somewhat mixed. That is a shame.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
A film by Steven Spielberg
Film critic Ernest Rister has written a brilliant review of "Empire of the Sun" where he details the unreality of the movie, how the viewer cannot trust what we are seeing on screen because it is the impressions of a 12 year old child and Spielberg gives us enough hints and allusions and images in the film that with a little bit of work, the viewer should be able to figure this out. Since I had read Mr Rister's review more than a year before I finally saw this movie, I tried to keep that knowledge in mind when I was seeing "Empire of the Sun" for the first time.
"Empire of the Sun" is the story of Jim (Christian Bale), a 12 year old British boy living in China with his parents. The movie is set during World War II when Japan was attacking China. During a raid on the city they are living in, Jim and his parents are trying to escape when they are separated. We don't know what happens to his parents, but Jim ends up in a Japanese internment camp. Jim meets an American named Basie (John Malkovich), whom he befriends and sort of tags along after. "Empire of the Sun" deals with the isolation and loneliness of this one boy who is quickly losing his innocence. That is really the heart of "Empire of the Sun", the loss of Jim's innocence in the midst of World War II.
The one thing that I struggled with was not taking this film at face value, that the events on screen are not truly happening, but rather how Jim is remembering them. They are happening as a twelve year old boy is seeing them, heightened and slightly distorted. I did not catch the clues that Mr. Rister wrote about, but I suspect you have to be studying "Empire of the Sun" to really grasp what Steven Spielberg is putting into the movie. Fortunately, "Empire of the Sun" works on two levels: as a straightforward film, and also on the level that Rister discovered and Spielberg intended.
-Joe Sherry
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films ever Oct. 3 2007
Format:DVD
I could never emphasize this more: watch this movie!

I regret to say that I am one of those people who had not seen this movie since it's release in 1987. Only this year did i get around to it, all this time mistakenly confusing it with The Last Emperor which totally eclipsed this movie by winning most of the honors at the Oscars. However, as soon as i started to watch Empire of the Sun, i was immediately taken in by the story and the characters, especially by Christian Bale's stellar performance, for any age. This is by far the best war movie for me, as well as one of the best emotional responsive one. Very rarely does a movie get to me. This one made me weep every time at the end. And i have seen it well over 30 times now!!!

Also, one of the consequences of watching this movie was that i became a huge fan of Christian Bale. I am his age, but i had never seen any of his movies, except some excerpts from Batman Begins. But after watching Empire of the Sun, my curiosity got the best of me and i wondered what other movies he had been in, and if his performances were as good. I have seen almost all of his movies, and he is truly the best there is. One of the most versatile actors ever.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing Epic Feb. 16 2004
Format:DVD
What a masterpiece by Stephen Spielberg!
"Empire of the Sun," like so many other Spielberg films, tells a coming of age story of a young boy. Ah, but his setting is not Southern California in the 70's or 80's this time.
Instead the story takes place in the Shanghai of WWII. Right before the war, English and Americans lived in luxurious and guarded enclaves of the city.
The hero of the story, Jamie (later Jim), is a spoiled young boy. He reprimands his servants, he questions the existence of God, he drives his loving parents crazy. All changes with the Japanese attack of Shanghai, which separates Jamie from his paretns. At first, it's a bit of a child's dream. He goes back to their mansion, he rides his bike around the house, he does what he pleases. Eventually he returns to the city and tries to surrender to the Japanese. But they don't want him.
He takes up, Oliver Twist like, with two American shady characters (a young John Malkovich and Joe Pantolino). Together they become imprisoned by the Japanese and are eventually sent off to an interment camp.
You see the camp through the eyes of a child. Yes he detests certain aspects-lack of food, grime-but he also takes to other parts. He's free from school. He becomes the child about the camp and spends most days bartering and exchanging goods. He befriends a Japanese or two. (He had admired them prior to the War.) He also shows the isolation of the ex-pat. Though he's called English, he has never been there. He's been put through all this for a country that he has never been to in his life.
I strongly recommend this film to history buffs, particularly those who enjoy WW II films. If you like John Malkovich, you'll love him here.
Yes the movie moves a bit slow at times. But overall, I found it to be a wonderful experience. (The DVD Making Of is also an excellent add-on.)
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
very good
Published 25 days ago by Southampton Guy
2.0 out of 5 stars DVD
I was disappointed because it does not work on my DVD player, so it was a waste of money Sorry.
Published 4 months ago by Anne Garforth
5.0 out of 5 stars It Stood The Test Of Time
Great movie and based on true facts which adds to the enjoyment of it. The young Christian Bale played a great starring role and one can appreciate why he turned out to be such a... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Doyle Bray
5.0 out of 5 stars Beutiful !
A stunning story with emotion deeply rooted in the dust of a distant war. A small group of civilians learns to cope with the destruction of their social order by the Japanese who... Read more
Published 14 months ago by eeyoore
5.0 out of 5 stars DVD in excellent condition
The DVD is in excellent condition and the movie is great too. An other «facette» of the WWII through the eyes of a kid and the poetry of a great author.
Published 19 months ago by Roger Couture
4.0 out of 5 stars effective and moving
i really enjoyed this Steven Spielberg film,for a couple of reasons.the acting was one of the reasons. Read more
Published on Oct. 5 2010 by falcon
5.0 out of 5 stars Wunderbar
One of the greatest dramas ever. Buy it. Watch it. Many times.
Published on May 13 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Empire of the Sun - Spectacularly Moving
What a sensational film. I'm curious as to why it has been so overlooked all these years. It's so much more than a war movie. Read more
Published on May 11 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Beautiful Movies Ever Made!
My intention is not to write a "helpful" review, but to reinforce the fact that this is one of the greatest movies ever made!
Published on April 24 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Empire of the Sun
This movie is truly one of Mr. Spielberg's best. I may be a bit biased when it comes to a Spielberg's collaboration with John Williams, the composer, since I love all their works. Read more
Published on March 11 2004 by Ryan Hall
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