Just Saw Empire Of The Sun: Different

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Chuck C, Aug 3, 2002.

  1. Chuck C

    Chuck C Cinematographer

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    Usually when someone says a movie is "different" the easiest translation is "it was bad". However, as a long time Spielberg fan, I am glad he made this film. I understand that many don't laud EOTS as one of SS's premiere films; i.e. non-memorable score, non-breakthrough ideas, slow moving, and so on. So when I bought the DVD, I had luke-warm expectaions. After viewing the DVD, I felt that Empire of the Sun serves as a pre-cursor to the great work that Spielberg would later do in Schindler's List and SPR while preserving the remarakble story of one person as was done in E.T. and Close Encounters . Although slow at times, I enjoyed some of the powerful scenes with Jim played by Christian Bale...I think Empire of the Sun is about Jim's transition more so than hope. With that said, I am going to have to mull this one over for a day or two in order to ingest this new and different film.
     
  2. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    IMO, Empire Of The Sin IS one of Spielberg's finest films with a memorable John Williams score.
    Many powerful scenes and genuine heartfelt emotion make this one of his better efforts.
    Definitely underrated.[​IMG]
     
  3. Matthew Chmiel

    Matthew Chmiel Cinematographer

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    In my opinion, it is Spielberg's best and most underrated film. I saw the movie last summer on TCM and when I first saw it, I fell in love with it. A great and powerful film that deserves a lot more recognition.
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Sean Oakley

    Sean Oakley Auditioning

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    At the moment, I would have to disagree with you guys on this film. I bought the DVD when it came out at the end of last year and only just watched it for the first time a couple of days ago.

    I went in just completely intent on forgetting who directed it, who scored it and just concentrating on the film and performances themselves. The acting as a whole was superb, especially Malkovich and Bale. Child actors in serious roles always have a tough job IMO but Bale was really impressive.

    The story, for me just was not engaging enough and therefore the film became a real chore to sit through after about an hour. I really wanted to like this movie but now I can see that the DVD will probably never be viewed again.

    Does the film become better upon repeat viewings?
     
  5. Tim RH

    Tim RH Second Unit

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    I love this movie too. One of Spielberg's Top 3, I'd say (and I've seen everything he's ever done). The score is tremendous, I think! And yes, the movie requires multiple viewings; I recommend you all read this informative and illuminating article - http://www.mysteriesofai.com/directo...reofthesun.htm. This film's got a lot more going on than most people catch on to.
     
  6. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    Old news! [​IMG] "Empire of the Sun" is one of Spielberg’s best movies. I saw it many years ago. When he made "Schindler’s List", contrary to the others, I wasn’t surprised! It wasn’t a revelation to me. I knew it already from "Empire of the Sun" that he is indeed a great director and can touch the serious drama materials as well as Indiana Jones! Not to mention there was "Color Purple"!
     
  7. Rich Romero

    Rich Romero Supporting Actor

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    C'mon. Better than Jaws? Close Encounters? Saving Private Ryan? A.I.? Minority Report? Raiders? Schindler's List? E.T.? I know it's your opinioon and all, but Spielberg's list of films is so impressive I find it hard to believe Empire being anyone's favorite. Anyway, I still really enjoyed it and it IS underrated.
     
  8. Chuck C

    Chuck C Cinematographer

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    Tim RH.....

    What an excellent article....I totally understand the film now and agree that repeat viewings are necessary. Everyone who has ever seen Empire of the sun should take a read. I am beginning to admire this film more and more.

    Also, I see that there is an in depth analysis of A.I. at that same site. I'm starting to think that Spielberg makes perfect films...it just takes a keen viewer to read the lines between the lines.
     
  9. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    "Different Strokes for Different Folks" I've actually met people who didn't think much of those films, but who am I to quibble about individual taste?



    Crawdaddy
     
  10. Mark Palermo

    Mark Palermo Second Unit

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    Weird, I always thought Empire of the Sun was one of my favorite Spielberg films. But when I ordered his works from best to worst, it ended up in the bottom half.

    AI
    Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    Schindler's List
    ET
    Jaws
    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Poltergeist
    Minority Report
    Amistad
    The Lost World: Jurassic Park
    Duel
    Sugarland Express
    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
    Empire of the Sun
    Saving Private Ryan
    The Color Purple
    Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
    Jurassic Park
    1941
    Always
    Hook
    Twilight Zone: The Movie

    It just goes to show how impressive Spielberg's oeuvre really is. Unfortunately, though he's admired as an entertainer, he's still misunderstood as an artist, with only a few critics (eg. Armond White, Gregory Solmon) offering serious analysis of his works.

    Mark
     
  11. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    Empire of the Sun is my favorite Spielberg film, it's my favorite film ever. I thought it was a hell of a film when I saw it initially, but I would never have thought that it would work it's way up to the very top of my all time list. Over the past three years I'v seen it perhaps five or six times and it only becomes more stunning every time I see it.

    that mysteries of AI sight brilliantly expresses a great deal of what I feel about Empire of the Sun, and I feel I must expound on the stunning cinematography.

    two favorite shots of mine are fairly minor, but really illustrate how brilliant this film is.

    Early in the film Jim's father is hitting golf balls into the pool, the composition of this shot is utterly brilliant. It's something of a forced perspective, we have the father in the foreground, hitting golf balls so the eye focuses on him initially, the pool and servents scuttling about take up most of the midground and in the background the mansion they live in completely dominates the rest of the entire frame. It's a brilliant shot that clearly illustrates the extent of their wealth without resorting to some hamhanded dialouge.

    Another shot occurs just after Jim flashes his flashlight at the boats in the Shanghai port, as he's thrown backward by the explosion the camera doesn't follow him but instead pans over to pick up his reflection in the three plated mirror on the dressor as he lands, an instant later his dad is seen in another of the mirrors tearing the door open and calling for him. Spielberg incorporated at least three or four shots or edits into a single shot here and again it didn't require a back and forth edit, instead it's seamless.

    There is also a brilliant use of mise-en-scene in the film, an excellent example is the action(s) that are implied in the powder when Jim discovers the powder room of the now empty house.

    Oh and the sequence I call 'Jims New Life' named for the score track, which occurs after the first fade to black, is an utterly beautiful and smooth way of showing us the world Jim lives in; it perfectly shows how much of a blast that Jim is having with his 'cardboard box'.

    And lets not forget the utterly breathtaking way Spielberg deals with Jim's adolescence and budding sexuality, the voyeuristic rapture with which he watches the [two britains that take him in] in a moment of intimancy as a firebombing goes on, seen through the window behind Jim.

    I find this film so layered and textured and utterly brilliant as to be unparalleled, the only thing I can personally compare it to is the praise that is lavished on Citizen Kane, and certainly, for all that I love all of cinema, from any year, I think this is a film that will be a citizen Kane for a new generation of directors. This is not any way a slight, the techniques, stylings, and innovations of CK have been so thoroughly integrated into the living and breathing language of film that for those of a younger generation, it is no longer quite so stunning.

    fyi to put my tastes into context, favorite ten spielberg, and favorite ten films

    Spielberg:
    1. Empire of the Sun
    2. A.I.
    3. Jaws
    4. Raiders of the Lost Ark
    5. E.T.
    6. Jurassic Park
    7. Hook
    8. Minority Report
    9. Schindler's List (so low only because I've only seen it once, despartly waiting for the dvd)
    10. Saving Private Ryan

    I cannot in conscious put Ce3k on the list because how throughly I despise the fact that the 'hero' abandoned his family, and we're supposed to feel happy for him doing this and cheating on his wife (hey that one kiss before they go down to the ship says very clearly, we'd make love but there just isn't time). I was just utterly disgusted and felt thoroughly betrayed by that ending.
    1. Favorite films
    2. Empire of the Sun
    3. Grand Illusion
    4. The Apartment
    5. Seven Samurai
    6. Lord of the Flies (1963)
    7. Almost Famous
    8. Paths of Glory
    9. To Kill a Mockingbird
    10. Bridge on the River Kwai/Oliver Twist (David Lean is phenomenal, I can't choose a favorite of his)
    11. How Green Was my Valley

    Adam
     
  12. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Spielberg is not the credited director of "Poltergeist".




    Crawdaddy
     
  13. Mark Palermo

    Mark Palermo Second Unit

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    I know he's not credited for it, but I still regard it as a Spielberg directorial effort, even if it was shared with Tobe Hooper.

    Mark
     
  14. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    For clarification, Poltergeist was directed by Tobe Hooper, as acknowledged by Spielberg himself and he only directed the "Kick The Can" segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie.
    Edit: Apparently Mark and I were posting at the same time![​IMG]
     
  15. Chuck C

    Chuck C Cinematographer

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    Going back to Empire of the Sun, I've read that many like this film more than any other Spielberg film...or even any film period. They are the ones who like the artistic, layers-upon-layers Spielberg like A.I. and EOTS. Then there are those who like E.T., Close Encounters, and Raiders because of the feel-good ending. I'm a type 2 for the simple fact that when a film can put an lump in your throat, it's gotta be good. However, ever since HT and HTF, and I'm sure others will tend to agree, I have a deeper appreciation for the cinema; sometims it takes a little online conversation to pick up on the hidden messages. That's why I look foward to repeat viewings of Empire as well as first time viewings of other acclaimed films.
    Adam S... great analysis by the way. ...that line sums it up perfectly.
     
  16. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    A little late on this, but still my .02.
     
  17. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    I like Lew's take on this.

    Spielberg is far, far, far from being anything near what I like in a filmmaker, but this is one of his few films I can actually enjoy--even though it too possesses some of its director's tendencies toward contrivance and manipulation.

    As for pacing: There's much to be said for a slower-paced film; if a work is of good quality, its pacing is intertwined with all the other elements of its success.

    Not everything has to inundate us with staccato, machine gun-like jump cutting and editing. This MTVishness will run its course eventually.
     
  18. David Oliver

    David Oliver Second Unit

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    Tim,

    Great article. I had just watched EOS, again, and I had this nagging feeling that there was something about it that seemed, well, at the time weird, but I think now I would say dreamlike. A great movie.
     
  19. Jefferson Morris

    Jefferson Morris Supporting Actor

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    To pull us off topic for a minute here...
     
  20. Mark Palermo

    Mark Palermo Second Unit

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    I'll be honest, I've never understood the frequent charges of manipulation fired against Spielberg. If you ask me, he's getting blamed for the sins of Ron Howard and Cameron Crowe. Sure, I can detect it on occasion, like in much of Hook, but more than any other filmmaker Spielberg has direct (not forced) access to viewers emotions.

    And I agree with what Jefferson said about Close Encounters. That ending took balls of steel.

    Mark
     

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