why we need to rewatch Empire of the Sun with Christian Bale

If Steven Spielberg has been celebrated for ages for his countless successes such as Jaws, AND the extra-terrestrial., Jurassic Park and all those who no longer need to be presented, some of his other films have difficulty getting on the podium of his most recognized works. However, among them is sometimes the best of his cinema, as is particularly the case with Empire of the Sun.

Tenth feature film by Steven Spielberg, Empire of the Sun arrives in his career between the first two Indiana Jones and on the heels of The Color Purple. While the film today remains one of the least cited in the director’s filmography, it is surprising to see how much it nevertheless garners all the obsessions and themes most dear to the director.

Both a perfect continuation of his previous works and a breeding ground for his next ones, Empire of the Sun perhaps suffered from its ambiguous tone, faithful to the novel, which tries to translate the harshness of war through the positive and resourceful outlook of a child who is developing himself. Spectacular, but less than a lost arch, moving, but less than a AND, the extraterrestrialthe film that launched the career of a 13-year-old Christian Bale is not the minor Spielberg we think it is.

1st day of school

hardly like war

Before David Cronenberg made his superb Crash in 1996, the British writer JG Ballard had already been adapted for the first time for cinema in 1987, and not by just anyone. While Steven Spielberg had to be content, at first, with produce the adaptation led by David Leanthe director of Doctor Zhivago abandoned what would have been his last film to leave the baby to Spielberg, already the father of a number of big hits. He had no trouble getting attached to the story ofEmpire of the Sunthis mainly autobiographical novel recounting Ballard’s youth, son of an English bourgeois living in Shanghai and taken prisoner in a Japanese camp during WWII.

A kid left to his own devices without his parents? Learning about life in the midst of chaos where war is a backdrop as terrible as it is fascinating? Substitute father figures and moving reunions? All the ingredients are there for the Leanian fresco to become Spielbergian and the transition is painless. If the war had already been present (and will be again) in the director, this is the first time that it serves as a motive of adversity for a child’s quest for identity. It is the fact of adopting this point of view, always important for the chief director of childhood, which gives the film this very singular tone.

Empire of the Sun: photo, Christian BaleNo luck

Because if the innocent and dreamy eyes of a child are the ideal support for a fantastic story like that ofANDofAI Artificial Intelligence or Good Big Giant, are they adapted to reflect the horrors of war without falling into miserabilism? However, this is what JG Ballard avoids doing in his novel by telling his own story: without lying about the desperate situation of his character, he keeps the perspective, adaptability and pragmatism that go with a child’s will to live. This is why the film implies the violence of war while passing through a lens which is itself not so violent.



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