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Empire of the Sun

Year: 1987
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: J G Ballard/Tom Stoppard
Cast: Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Joe Pantoliano
The first movie Steven Spielberg directed where I thought to myself he wanted to get serious as a director.

Starring an unrecognisably young Christian Bale, it's based on J G Ballard's autobiographical book about his formative years in Asia during World War II.

When the Japanese attack Singapore, the young Jamie (Bale), a plane enthusiast and privileged child is separated from his parents as they flee the city.

Ending up in a Japanese POW camp, Jamie finds something akin to a new family together with the other prisoners, among them Basie (Malkovich).

The finer details of the plot are a bit hazy, but it's the stunning cinematography that stays with you - epitomised by the sequence of the huge warplane flying low past the tower as Jamie watches.

Like no other film before it in his repertoire, this heralded Spielberg's talent as a dramatic director.

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