RANKED: Steven Spielberg (#20 — Empire of the Sun)

Photo: Warner Bros.

Photo: Warner Bros.

Chris Luckett

20. EMPIRE OF THE SUN (1987)

Release Date: December 11, 1987

Chronology: Spielberg continued his dramatic work after The Color Purple here, before returning to his roots two years later with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Box Office: $22 million ($46 million, adjusted for inflation)

Oscars: 6 nominations, 0 wins

Premise: A young Christian Bale plays Jamie Graham, a real-life boy who went from a life of luxury to struggling to survive in a POW camp.

Over two hours?: More than 30 minutes over

John Williams Score?: Yes

Father Issues?: Jamie’s businessman father is the reason his family is in Shanghai

War?: Yep, World War II

Aliens?: Nowhere to be found

Surprise Appearances: Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Joe Pantoliano, Ben Stiller, and Miranda Richardson

Fun Fact: Ben Stiller’s time on the set of Empire of the Sun provided the germination of the idea for Tropic Thunder.

Best Line: “It’s at the beginning and end of war that we have to watch out. In between, it’s like a country club.”

Best Scene: 

Verdict: A good movie, but much too long for its own good and too drearily sad. Still, Christian Bale provided one of the greatest performances from a child actor in the ‘80s, as Jamie. When the movie succeeds in showing itself through Jamie’s eyes of innocence and wonder — as well as his later eyes of disillusionment and emptiness — it comes alive in a way many war movies fail to.

Rating: 4 stars / 5

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