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Empire of the Sun (1987)

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Miguel Diaz
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Empire of the Sun (1987)

Empire of the Sun (1987) is a film based on a semi-autobiographical novel written by J. G. Ballard. The film tells the story of a boy named Jim. It is set in Shanghai, China during WWII.

The Japanese occupation of Shanghai leads to Jim’s reversal of fortune, which takes him from the comforts of living in a wealthy enclave, to the confines of living as a prisoner of war in a Japanese internment camp.

This film makes an excellent companion to the novel of the same name which was written in 1984.

I would use both the film and the book with my students. I would ask them to first read the book, then I would ask them to watch the film. Upon completing both, I would ask them to make comparisons between the two. What are the similarities? What are the differences? Furthermore, I would ask them to explore which of the two (film or book) depict the main character in a more realistic manner.