JG Ballard's autobiographical novel, about his experiences in the WWII Japanese concentration camps in China, is a mild version of the events he witnessed; Spielberg's is milder still. young Jim Graham (Bale) is Ballard, an obnoxious expat brat separated from his parents as the war overwhelms Shanghai. His world of balsa-wood models and servants is blown apart and replaced by prison camp brutality. Stripped of its sci-fi trappings, Ballard's text is about what shits we may become in order to survive. Spielberg includes a strand of populist heroism, yet even this fails to dent the awful message. And the budget makes itself seen, as does Bale's superlative Jim.
Empire of the Sun
Cast and crew