The sample essay on Empire Of The Sun Movie deals with a framework of research-based facts, approaches, and arguments concerning this theme. To see the essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion, read on.
Steven Spielberg’s film The Empire of the Sun, based on J G Ballard’s novel, follows the experience of James (Jim) Graham during the siege of Shanghai by the Japanese during the Pacific War of the 1940’s. The film utilises a number of cinematographic effects so as to create atmosphere and depth, and successfully reaches viewers’ emotions.
The film successfully employs imagery as a means for creating atmosphere. Throughout the film, underlying parallels can be observed, linking situations to other similar scenarios, which occur earlier in the film. In addition to imagery, music and sound affects are also central to the viewer’s overall appreciation of this film, and constitute an important part of the overall result. Characterisation, as could be expected, is also important for the viewer’s understanding of this text.
In terms of filmic devices, a particularly important scene from this movie is that of coffins floating along the Yangtze (Yellow) River. This scene, which is accompanied by Suo Gan, involves the depiction of a number of coffins, presumably containing corpses, slowly drifting along the river in Shanghai. Although the viewer cannot be sure that these coffins are in some way connected with traditional custom, the theme of death and a definite end to life, involving the river, and the theme of the river as serving as some form of path towards an alternative existence is revisited, during a later stage of the film.
Towards the conclusion of Empire of the Sun, Jim throws a suitcase into the Yangtze, in a symbolic gesture of putting an end to the past and allowing objects indicative of his past life to float along the river, towards an unknown end. The suitcase was another example of a filmic device employed in this movie. Jim often refers to it and appears to treasure its contents as providing some form of proof of his existence prior to his being taken by the Japanese. For Jim, the suitcase represented a link between the frustration of life in the camp and the relative serenity of his past existence.
In addition to the underlying themes presented in this movie, cinematic affects also constitute an important part of the film’s overall ambience and charisma. The image of Jim alone in a deserted house, in an area of Shanghai occupied by expatriate taipans, is important for character development, as well as the development of a level of empathy towards this character on the part of the viewer. Jim’s relative inability to care for himself, as well as his childish response of taking advantage of his parents’ absence through riding a bicycle inside the empty house, shows to the viewer something of his vulnerability and innocence. His mad obsession with aeroplanes, which had already been highlighted prior to his parents’ disappearance, draws even more attention to his innocence and childishness.
The frequent repetition and return to themes already explored in the film highlights to the viewer something of the way characters develop in their changed environment. The scene of Jim riding his bicycle indoors is repeated towards the end of this text, as he rides through the deserted rooms of the Japanese war camp. The intention of this scene is perhaps slightly unclear. The director could be attempting to highlight Jim’s resilience in the face of change and hardship, or perhaps his ability to retain childhood despite the ordeals against which he has come.
Jim’s obsession with aeroplanes is in no way diminished by his experience of the Japanese war camp. He still holds pilots, even from the Japanese forces, in high regard, and this is well emphasized through the inclusion of a mystic sequence, put to the music of Suo Gan. The sequence involves the depiction of a commissioning ceremony for kamikaze pilots. Jim, presumably moved by the solemnity and dignity of the ceremony, sings loudly. The use of camera angles in this sequence is original and successfully highlights to viewers the bizarre yet somehow touching significance of the sequence. The symbolism of the red setting sun as the kamikaze pilots fly towards the horizon could be seen as being indicative of the looming sunset on Japanese Imperialism.
The mystic sequence comes abruptly to an end with an American air raid on the prison camp. The scenes of devastation which follow the air raid, and the exodus of former prisoners flooding from the camp towards a brighter future are well depicted in this film. The particularly memorable usage of camera angles so as to draw attention to the large number of ex-prisoners leaving the camp is successful.
Another significant theme of this movie is the confused and sentimental encounter between a Japanese soldier who had befriended Jim during the war and Jim himself. The two meet in the derelict and devastated surrounds of the former prison camp. Now able to show their mutual respect for each other, the Japanese soldier draws his sword, with the intention of assisting Jim is slicing a fruit. Misinterpreting this gesture, the rather hasty and rash figure of Basie, an American who assists Jim during the war, draws his gun and shoots at the Japanese soldier, mortally wounding him. Jim, horrified by this event, attempts to resuscitate the dead Japanese prison guard, whilst repeating ‘I can bring everyone back’ in a fatigued yet compulsive manner.
Throughout the movie one aspect, which could perhaps be improved, is that of dialogue and inter-character relations. Speech between characters is sometimes awkward and incredible. The relations between Basie, Frank and Jim are at times frustratingly badly constructed. At times Jim acts too foolishly and childishly for someone of his age, and this is particularly apparent through his loud outburst upon seeing B51 aeroplanes during an air raid on the prison camp in which he is detained. Mrs. Victor and her partner are sometimes too cold and sterile to be believed, especially as one considers the hardship and adversity faced by these two figures. Jim’s bizarre ability to be able to tame the anger of the Japanese guards is also hard to believe at times.
Dialogue within the British community, as depicted in the commencing scenes of the movie, is well constructed and readily believable. Relations between Jim and his parents are very well depicted.
Camera angle and music are especially well employed in the scenes of street life in Shanghai, as well as at the costume party attended by Jamie’s parents. Filmic devices are, for the most part, well suited for transmitting important themes and successful in achieving a high level of empathy between viewers and characters.
In conclusion, director Steven Spielberg successfully uses images, sound, music and dialogue to develop the story line of the film and to create a believable and human atmosphere in this movie.