It’s based on the novel by J.G. Ballard and tells the story of a young boy who is born into a rich British family, living in China in 1941. World War 2 is reaching the South Pacific and Japan are about to invade their home. During the invasion, Jamie (Bale) gets separated from his parents and through various circumstances, ends up in a prison of war camp with many other British and American POWs.
Jamie is a huge fan of all aircraft and one of the film’s focus points is military aviation.
I’ve just reached the scene where the US military are starting to push the Japanese back, so much so that they start to bomb the POW camp where Jamie lives. To me, this scene is one of the best of any movie that I’ve ever seen. Spielberg uses the love that we have formed of Bale’s character, an amazing score (by John Williams) that reaches it’s pinnacle, the roar of the P51 engines and gigantic explosions to see Jamie climbing a huge tower, making himself level with the fighter pilots to express his delight screaming at the top of his lungs:
“P51 Cadillac of the Skies…… HORSEPOWERRRRRRRRRRRR”
Following the exhilaration, the emotion of the war suddenly hits Jamie as Dr. Rawlins (Nigel Havers) brings him back down to earth with the heat wrenching line:
“I can’t remember what my parents look like”
Watching the clip that I’ve placed below probably won’t do this scene justice but I love it so much that I had to share it with you.
If you’ve never seen Empire of the Sun, I recommend that you do. You can purchase it here.