‘Empire of the Sun’ is a lesser known Steven Spielberg film that is often overlooked most likely because it is historical fiction from an era of blockbuster spectacle. Spielberg’s name is synonymous with popcorn blockbusters, especially during the 80s when this film was released. Even though the film was met with critical acclaim and was a modest box office success, it could easily have slipped under the radar because in the years following its release, Spielberg would release box office behemoths like 'Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade' (1989) and 'Jurassic Park' (1993).
‘Empire of the Sun’ is the story of a wealthy young British boy, played by a young Christian Bale, living in China, who gets separated from his family during China's occupation by Japan during World War II. The film is a character driven story and prodigal Bale gives a standout performance.
The scope and aesthetic are all signature Spielberg, with eye catching visuals, impressive set pieces, and an over all epic aesthetic. There are elements here that he would improve upon and use in his far more critically and commercially successful ‘Saving Private Ryan.’
‘Empire of the Sun’ is simply a good film. If you’re a fan of less traditional war films or just a Spielberg fan, I’d recommend this film.
MY STAR RATING 3.5/5 STARS
Visit The Brown Deer Public Library to check out other historical fiction films from Steven Spielberg.