Empire of the Sun
(By Gerry Wang)

Gerry Wang

(Christian Bale, John Malkovich; directed by Steven Spielberg)

_____I know what you're thinking Empire of the what? Steven Spielberg directed a movie called EMPIRE OF THE SUN? Gerry must be smoking too much indo because I've never heard of such a movie. Well, you don't remember because this is considered one of Spielberg's box office bombs. This and HOOK, which was really stupid. But we're not talking about HOOK. We're talking about Spielberg's fine, ambitious movie EMPIRE OF THE SUN.

_____This movie was released in 1989, when I was, what....10 years old? I keep in mind I was young when I saw it.

_____Have you ever gotten separated from your parents in a public place? Remember that fear you have that you'll never see them again? I know it's happened to me plenty of times and I always freak out. I always wondered, will I ever see my parents again? I miss my mommy. I know this has happened to you too, and it is still probably one of your primal fears. As we can see on the news this type of separation of kids and parents ends tragically. Yesterday's PARTY OF FIVE was focused on this. It's horrible hearing a child cry out for his mother.

_____EMPIRE OF THE SUN is about a young British lad in China during the 1940s. He's a rich, snobby kid which stuck-up parents, who has servants and stuff. He lives the easy life. All upper class and stuff. But when WWII comes, this easy life is shattered into a million pieces. The Japs (you can go ahead and edit this Rice. We know how you're all PC. =P ) bomb the port, and the citizens of the Chinese city are forced to run for their lives. Literally. They are on foot hoping to catch a convoy out of the war zone. The young British boy and his parents evacuate the rich house and flee, but then tragedy happens...

_____The boy and his parents are separated, and they are forced to leave w/o him. The boy's whole world comes crashing down. He returns home to his abandoned house to see his former servants plundering the place. He scrounges for food. But he can't find any. Time passes, and he's eaten every last can of food. He keeps himself occupied by playing around in his drained swimming pool. But he starts to starve. He goes to the city looking for help, all the time thinking his mom and dad will come back. But they don't. They can't. WWII is raging. Eventually he is taken by the Japs to an internment camp, where life gets even harsher. He meets John Malkovich there, who becomes sort of his guardian. But he's a gruff bully type character. The whole camp is full of them. His childhood is then spent inside this interment camp under the rule of cruel Jap commander.

_____This movie basically represents every kid's worst nightmare. Losing both parents and basically becoming an orphan in a scary place. The British lad witnesses death and brutality for the first time in his life. It is so sad watching his psyche deteriorate. Like when he curls up next to the corpse of his surrogate mother and goes to sleep. Heart-wrenching. The mood of this movie overall is very melancholy and depressing. We see Spielberg's roots in filmmaking, where he presents a movie from the vantage point of a child. This is the director's specialty. He captures very well the crushing force of the paranoia, anxiety, and xenophobia on a lost child, and I must admit this movie gave me nightmares. The scene near the end where all the children lineup for inspection, not recognizing their parents and vice versa almost brought me to tears. This is why I'm recommending EMPIRE OF THE SUN. It hits nerves.

Whether-to-bring-a-chick-o-meter: 3 (A touching movie, but really a children's movie)