Empire of the Sun

1987 PG 2h 33m DVD

Empire of the Sun

1987 PG 2h 33m DVD
  • Overview
  • Details
Steven Spielberg directs a young Christian Bale in a stunning feature-film debut as Jim, a British expatriate who's separated from his parents when the Japanese army invades Shanghai at the outset of World War II. Eventually interned in a civilian prison camp, Jim hooks up with several American prisoners (led by John Malkovich) and becomes the camp mascot. Elsewhere, war tidings grow ominous for the Japanese.
Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers, Joe Pantoliano, Leslie Phillips, Masatô Ibu, Ben Stiller, Robert Stephens, Peter Copley, Burt Kwouk, Paul McGann, Ann Queensberry, Sylvia Marriott
Steven Spielberg
Widescreen 1.85:1
English, French, Spanish (Neutral), Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese Simplified, Thai, Korean
English: Dolby Digital 5.1, English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
PG - Some material may not be suitable for children. Parents urged to give parental guidance. May contain some material parents might not like for their young children.
age 14+
Common Sense rating OK for kids 14+
age 14+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that this war movie is grim, emotional, and violent. Expect scenes of bombing, shooting, clubbing, looting, stealing, dead bodies, and starving prisoners of war reduced to eating insects. But the film also contains some uplifting messages about helping others and the triumph of humanity over suffering. Some WWII-era racial insults.

Sexual Content

A married couple passionately kiss each other in bed while adolescent Jim curiously watches.


Lots of war violence: bombing, shooting, and clubbing. People killing people. Civilians flee tanks and bombs, and starving survivors fight for food.


Dated derogatory names are used such as "jap," "chink" and "ol' boy."

Social Behavior

The movie attempts to convey the idea that humanity can rise above desperate conditions, that selflessness is its own reward, and that wealth and privilege can blind people to others' suffering.


Not applicable

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

Many characters smoke tobacco in an accurate reflection of the era. Some adults drink casually.

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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